Robotics, Internet of Things and Data Analytics are set to play a key role in Ireland’s blue economy. The national funding agency for marine research industry, the Marine Institute is committed to supporting industry-led innovation in the marine sector, and recently awarded financial investments to two marine technology projects led by XOcean and IDS Monitoring.

“Supporting Irish companies in the marine sector, through research grants, helps to accelerate innovation and drive growth in our blue economy. The Marine Institute is committed to assisting industry-led development through knowledge transfer, capacity building and research to enable optimal decision making and planning to best leverage our natural marine resources sustainably and efficiently,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute.

Louth-based marine technology firm, XOcean, has been awarded €199,739 in funding over two years to transform marine monitoring and data collection.  The company uses innovative robotics, particularly unmanned vehicles, and IoT technology to monitor and collect data at sea.

Traditionally monitoring and data collection at sea present many unique challenges.  In the case of monitoring fish stocks, monitoring can be unpredictable and costly due to delays caused by weather conditions and safety requirements. Monitoring vessels generally operate alone and therefore generate a single point measurement at a single point in time. As fish are highly mobile, this is an inherent limitation in single sonar surveys.

Deploying this funding, XOcean will research and develop of a cost-effective way of deploying and using unmanned technology with multiple sonar devices simultaneously to survey for fish in an area. The technical development to be undertaken in this project concerns the design, implementation and testing of tools and techniques to allow the safe, efficient and effective use of unmanned vessels in a ‘swarm’ formation for fisheries research. At the end of the 2-year project, the technology will be fully demonstrated in the live environment.  This project will demonstrate an increase in spatial and temporal resolution of fish surveys, resulting in more effective data collection, while also reducing costs, risk and supporting the sustainable monitoring and data collection of fish stocks.

A new Smart Data Buoy project by Clare based IDS Monitoring will also benefit from a €196,955 funding grant, to develop a new smart buoy for coastal and inshore environmental monitoring.  This project will redesign the physical structure of the buoy; upgrade the system electronics and software including wave sensor components and the development of a standard set of moorings that would be appropriate in almost all weather and water scenarios.  The new IDS Buoy will make it easier to assemble, deploy and use buoys, as well as reducing purchase costs and maintenance, whilst enhancing the value of the information delivered through the smart buoy.

Both advanced technology research projects funded through the Marine Institute have the potential to be globally significant, and present enormous commercial opportunities for these Irish marine enterprises.

Announced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, the industry led awards support Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth as well as the national Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017-2021. With a growing blue economy both advanced technology research projects have the potential to be globally significant, and present enormous commercial opportunities for these Irish marine enterprises.

Increased economic growth and job creation from small and medium sized enterprises based in Ireland is a key component of several national strategies and regional development plans. These awards will be carried out with the support of the Marine Institute under the Marine Research Programme 2014-2020 funded by the Irish Government, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)”.

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