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Autonomous deployment of underwater acoustic monitoring devices using an unmanned aerial vehicle: the flying hydrophone

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posted on 26.10.2020, 11:48 authored by Daniel BabatundeDaniel Babatunde, Simon Pomeroy, Paul LepperPaul Lepper, Ben ClarkBen Clark, Rebecca Walker
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are increasingly becoming a popular tool in the observation and study of marine mammals. However, the potential capabilities of these vehicles regarding autonomous operations are not being fully exploited for passive underwater acoustic monitoring in marine mammal research. This article presents results from the development of a UAV system equipped with an underwater acoustic recorder aimed at assisting with the monitoring of harbour porpoises in Special Areas of Conservation in the United Kingdom. The UAV is capable of autonomous navigation, persistent landing, take-off and automatic data acquisition at specified waypoints. The system architecture that enables autonomous UAV flight including waypoint planning and control is described. A bespoke lightweight underwater acoustic recorder (named the PorpDAQ) capable of transmitting the results of fast Fourier transforms (FFT) applied to incoming signals from a hydrophone was also designed. The system’s operation is successfully validated with a combination of outdoor experiments and indoor simulations demonstrating different UAVs capable of autonomously navigating and landing at specific waypoints while recording data in an indoor tank. Results from the recorder suggests lightweight, relatively low-cost systems can be used in place of heavier more expensive alternatives.

Funding

Natural Enviroment Research Council (NERC) and Natural England

History

School

  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Published in

Sensors

Volume

20

Issue

21

Publisher

MDPI AG

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by MDPI under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

20/10/2020

Publication date

2020-10-25

Copyright date

2020

ISSN

1424-8220

Language

en

Depositor

Mr Daniel Oluwayinka Babatunde. Deposit date: 21 October 2020

Article number

6064