NTNU Ålesund students win prestigious automation engineering award on USVs for aqua farm inspection

Better late than never!

In February 2017, bachelor students of automation engineering at NTNU Ålesund, Albert Havnegjerde, Vegard Kamsvåg og Sveinung Liavaag, won the prestigious Norwegian national award for the best bachelor thesis 2016 on automatic control given by the Norwegian Society for Automatic Control (NFA).

Jury member Rune Volden from Ulstein Power & Control hands over the award to NTNU Ålesund students Sveinung Liavaag and Albert Havnegjerde. Vegard Kamsvåg was unable to attend. Image courtesy: NFA

The students also co-wrote a paper based on their work together with SoftICE members Robin T. Bye and Ottar L. Osen (student supervisor) that was presented at IEEE Techno-Ocean 2016 and subsequently published in the proceedings:

  • Ottar L. Osen, Albert Havnegjerde, Vegard Kamsvåg, Sveinung Liavaag, and Robin T. Bye. A Low Cost USV for Aqua Farm Inspection. In Proceedings of IEEE Techno-Ocean ’16, pages 291–298, October 2016.

In their work, the students employed rapid prototyping to develop a low cost (~2000 EUR) remotely controlled unmanned surface vessel (USV) intended for inspection of aqua farms whilst incorporating a dynamic positioning (DP) system.

This work was partly financed by an internal educational project called Research-based and Innovation-driven Learning through Final Year Projects (Forskningsbasert og innovasjonsdrevet læring gjennom avsluttende oppgave – FILA).

The full paper and the conference presentation is available for download here: www.robinbye.com | Publications

Abstract: A Low Cost USV for Aqua Farm Inspection

This paper describes the rapid prototyping of a low cost remotely controlled unmanned surface vessel (USV) intended for inspection of aqua farms. There is an increased focus on inspection of ocean-based aqua farms due to three major challenges: escaping fish, sea lice, and algae. Escaping fish may bring diseases to other fish or interbreed with wild fish and damage their gene material. Sea lice is a parasite that may seriously damage the fish, lower its food quality, and if not treated, can spawn and multiply into an epidemic. Finally, algae blooms may lower oxygen levels and kill the fish. To proactively counter these challenges, aqua farm operators need to regularly inspect the fish cages for holes, the water for algae, and the fish for sea lice. Modern ocean-based aqua farms are usually constructed with two rows of sea cages separated by a gangway in the middle, often with a small operation and machinery building at one end. Staff visually inspect the cages from above and from the nearside by walking up and down the gangway. Inspection of the outer side of a cage will normally require a boat with a human inspector on board, whereas subsea inspection will normally require a human diver. Here, we propose a USV design solution for this kind of inspection that provides the aqua farm operator with a remotely controlled unmanned boat and subsea video feed. A working prototype has been designed in less than six months and successfully tested at sea.

Index Terms—USV; ROV; dynamic positioning; low cost; commercial off-the-shelf; rapid prototyping; aquaculture.