Robots to Rule, or at Least Measure, the Seas
“If it matters, measure it.” The Fraser Institute, a think tank in Vancouver, BC, argues that good public policy requires good data and constant measurement. For evaluating current marine natural resource policies as well as policy reforms, measurement is key and measurement requires data.
Enter the robots. Liquid Robotics is one of a number of firms producing ocean robots to monitor marine ecosystems (as well a keeping tabs on pirates and pollution). Their Wave Gliders are powered by waves for motion and solar power for electronics.
Marine data collection matters for U.S. rivers, streams, and lakes as well as coastlines, and a great many options are available.
|Liquid Robotics Wave Glider. Image from article “Wave-Propelled Robots Patrol the Seas for Oil Industry.”|
People can be hired to count fish swimming up and down streams, or remote sensing equipment and cameras can be installed to measure everything from fish to trash swimming or floating along. All this data can be collected and analyzed to try to measure improving or declining marine ecosystem health. Data is key, but theories and testable hypotheses are needed too.
Liquid Robotics links to an interesting Ocean Exchange project that: “Conduct[s] annual searches for best-in-class proven solutions to Ocean-related challenges.”
This nonprofit program is both a search for new ideas for measuring the oceans, and an educational project. The webpage, below, is pretty cool.
Combine these ocean robotics and measurement projects with the “big data” shift we hear about in electronics. All this ocean data “in the cloud” could be used to improve current policies. If Congress decides to block the NSA from collecting and searching electronic data from citizens’ daily lives, maybe some of that electronic horsepower could be redirected to collecting and analyzing data on the daily lives of American fish.