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Unlocking exposed locations for sea aquaculture activities with autonomy and remote control technology


Current state-of-the-art technologies and operations for sea-based aquaculture farms are highly dependent on manual labour and close human interaction with the process and cage structures, where the need for personnel to operate on fish farms, including highly specialised divers, is a risk factor for safety matters as well as a significant economic cost. Hence, new reliable technological solutions with more autonomy and remote control features by means of unmanned vessels can minimise personnel exposure time, reduce cost and improve regularity and planning of operations such as inspection and repair of aquaculture nets and dead fish removal. Moreover, motivated by good water quality and lack of available sheltered locations, the industry is moving to more exposed areas and this renders manual work difficult and highlights the need for autonomous vessels, teleoperations and remote control. Autonomy and remote control technology can hence deliver the key to open areas that are exposed to harsh weather conditions to sea aquaculture activities.
Some automation and remote control solutions are already employed by the Norwegian salmon farming industry, resulting in higher yields and higher safety standards. For example, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), deployed from manned service vessels, are now used to inspect and clean cage nets as well as inspection of mooring lines and anchors on a regular basis. Special ROV intervention tools for net repair exist as well, but these are very dependent of low wave state, and could not be considered as proven technology that are widely acquired by the industry. To date, generic intervention tools, with the required sensing, force and motion control precision, that can replace the hands of a diver and that can operate in the wave affected zone, do not exist.
This talk will present the ongoing activities within SINTEF Ocean in the fields of autonomy, remote control and robotics for sea aquaculture, since SINTEF Ocean has been investigating unmanned vessels and remote technology for application in aquaculture sites for the last 10 years where the most relevant concluded project is MerdROV (The Research Council of Norway project num. 217541). The scope of the MerdROV project was to develop navigation and station-keeping control systems for ROVs, for aquaculture specific operations such as net cleaning, inspection and repair. The results from full scale attempts indicate that a navigation system based on acoustic measurement principles can be used for navigation in full scale farms with large biomass and that holes in the net can be detected via computer vision algorithms. Given the promising results, a new generation of ongoing projects within autonomy and remote control followed: ARTIFEX (RCN project num. 256241), CageReporter (RCN project num. 269087), RACE and EXPOSED.


Academic lecture


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 237790
  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 256241
  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 269087





  • SINTEF Ocean / Aquaculture
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • SINTEF Ocean / Energi og transport

Presented at

Arctic Frontiers 2018


Tromsø, Norway


21.01.2018 - 26.01.2018


Arctic Frontiers partnership



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