Professor Stefan Williams from University of Sydney delivers seminar at the Centre

Professor Stefan Willliams, Head of School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at the University of Sydney visited Heriot-Watt University on Monday 13th May and delivered a seminar on Applications in Marine Imaging.

Professor Williams' talk described insights gained from a decade of autonomous marine systems development at the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics. Over the course of this time, his team have developed and deployed numerous underwater vehicles and imaging platforms in support of applications in engineering science, marine ecology, archaeology and geoscience. They have operated an Australia-wide benthic observing program designed to deliver precisely navigated, repeat imagery of the seafloor. This initiative makes extensive use of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to collect high-resolution stereo imagery, multibeam sonar and water column measurements on an annual or semi-annual basis at sites around Australia, spanning the full latitudinal range of the continent from tropical reefs in the north to temperate regions in the south. The program has been very successful over the past decade, collecting millions of images of the seafloor around Australia and making these available to the scientific community through online data portals developed by the facility and affiliated groups.  These observations are providing important insights into the dynamics of key ecological sites and their responses to changes in oceanographic conditions through time. The research group has also contributed to expeditions to document coral bleaching, cyclone recovery, submerged neolithic settlement sites, ancient shipwrecks, methane seeps and deepwater hydrothermal vents. The talk considered how automated tools for working with this imagery have facilitated the resulting science outcomes and explored opportunities to extend these techniques to the study of deep-sea science and exploration.