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Marine robotics research infrastructure network

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EUMarineRobots (Marine robotics research infrastructure network)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

Today, there is a pressing need for a sustained, persistent, and affordable presence in the oceans that will help us to understand and monitor how key issues such as climate change, ocean acidification, unsustainable fishing, pollution, waste, loss of habitats and biodiversity, shipping, security, and mining are affecting global ocean sustainability and stewardship.
Equally important is the development of systems and technologies that will allow us to explore and exploit the ocean in a sustainable manner. This is one of the reasons why marine robotics is receiving significant attention worldwide.
Europe is already a major player in marine robotics. However, marine robotics is not yet a mature field and, consequently, the research and development landscape in the EU is not integrated and suffers from very significant shortcomings with respect to standards, testing, evaluation, integration, and access to research infrastructures, which is relatively scarce and uncoordinated.
The EUMR concept builds on existing institutional and informal networks of the EU marine robotics community to develop an integrated EU marine robotics Research Infrastructure (RI), to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) agenda to effectively address the Ocean’s grand challenges.
EUMR addresses the call topic INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating Activities for Starting Communities by proposing to achieve the following main objective: to open up key national and regional marine robotics research infrastructures (RIs) to all European researchers ensuring their optimal use and joint development to establish a world-class marine robotics integrated infrastructure.
The pandemic situation impacted the work plan development among the project tasks, namely those involving in-person meetings or TNA access. A few TNA projects could not proceed and faced cancellation, but most of the impact was mitigated by providing remote access to teams and facilities. Travel restrictions and lockdown have also caused several delays. The consortium addressed these issues by adding a few modifications to the initial work plan in the project’s second Amendment, submitted within just a few months after the pandemic outbreak. Consequently, there are no significant deviations from the DoA, and the consortium will be able to attain and carry out the project milestones/deliverables as expected.
Some highlights of the project include:
• TNA Call 1: application period from 01/10/2018 to 14/01/2019. The results were announced on 28/02/2019: 26 eligible applications and 22 projects approved.
• TNA Call 2: application period from 14/05/2019 to 15/08/2019. The results were announced on 02/10/2019: 31 applications and 28 projects approved.
• TNA Call 3: application period from 03/03/2020 to 30/06/2020. The results were announced on 12/08/2020: 11 applications and 11 projects approved.
• Project website: https://www.eumarinerobots.eu/.
• Social media presence (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and RSS-feeds).
• Very strong presence in national and international conferences, summer schools, cruises, and at-sea exercises.
• Professors António Pascoal and João Borges de Sousa are the co-chairs of the IEEE/MTS San Diego Oceans Global conference, to take place in September 2021. There will be several sessions focused on EUMR.
• The “Coffee with EUMR” Webinar series has been organized by the consortium to disseminate project results and reach the scientific, industry and end-user communities, as well as promoting all EUMR partners and their young researchers and collaborators.
• Educational activities: Breaking the Surface 2018, 2019 and 2020 and Plocan Glider School 2018 and 2019.
• Implemented the e-access framework according to the specifications.
• Enabled existing partner e-Infrastructure components for virtual access and further development within EUMR.
• e-based learning: interactive modules, a book and videos of the operations carried out during the project are being collected and classified to be made available as open access material on the project website.
• Joint research activities on all JRA topics.
• Upgrade of partners infra-structures in preparation for harbor and sea trials.
• Sea-trials: REP exercise 2018 and 2019, Exploring Fronts with Multiple Robots cruise, RV Polarstern cruise (PS119) in April/May 2019, cruise opportunity in RV L’EUROPE in the Ligurian Sea off the coast of Nice, EUMR cruise in RV Meteor (expedition M167) and cruise RV ALKOR in the St. Tropez Canyon, France.
• Promoted deeper interaction with other European initiatives and H2020 funded projects (EuroSea, Groom, Eurofleets+), and EuroGOOS to strengthen the Marine Robotic Communities.
• Maintained and managed the organizational structure of the project: Project Coordinator (PC) from UPORTO; Executive Management Team (EMT) composed of one representative per partner; General Assembly (GA) composed of one representative per partner and by WP leaders; Science, Industrial and Legal Advisory Committees (SILAC); and, User Selection Panel (USP).
The potential for innovation in EUMR primarily relates to improvements to, and extensions of, the capabilities of the infrastructure available within the consortium. Innovations will advance the state of the art in: 1) Vision, acoustic, and manipulation systems for intervention AUV; 2) Systems for cooperative motion planning, navigation, and control of networked vehicles for increased autonomy at sea; 3) Hybrid acoustic-optical underwater communication networks; 4) Navigation systems for under-the-ice operations; 5) Enhanced underwater Launch and Recovery System (LARS) for Hybrid ROVs; and 6) Systems for human-robot cooperation underwater.
The EUMR activities carried out under the TNA, JRA and NA are adding value to existing high-value, high-cost infrastructures by making them more available to the sector and to drive forward the state-of-the-art with respect to marine robotics.
The EUMR consortium has been actively engaged in networking activities to support the creation of a coherent EU community in marine robotics, so that all maritime nations can gain access to the resources and expertise required to effectively and responsibly manage their marine estate.
The TNA program is designed to provide a coherent framework for stakeholders and researchers to gain access to both the “standard” and the “developing” capacities of the RI.
EUMR offers a rich set of JRAs that are both technologically challenging and scientifically novel. The EUMR project has been improving the existing infrastructure and the services it can provide to stakeholders by extending the individual advanced capabilities of robotic systems and optimizing communication and coordination between them.
By achieving its work plan goals, the project has attained important results with significant impact within the Marine Robotic Community by:
• Providing World-class education and training.
• Improving access to data, knowledge and equipment.
• Supporting EU innovation and economic growth.
• Advancing marine robotic technology.
• Demonstrating capability in challenging environments.
• Facilitating Integrated marine observing.
• Improving the marine environment and public perception.
• Enhancing the articulation with other RIs, as well as with flagship projects, and representatives from third countries to address global ocean observation and exploitation challenges in a synergistic way, thus achieving what cannot be done in isolation.
Figure 1. Evolving current marine robotics landscape into a world-class dynamic network
EUMR Networking and TNA
EUMR logo
EUMR Networking