A Low Cost USV for Aqua Farm Inspection
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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This paper describes the rapid prototyping of a low cost remotely controlled unmanned surface vessel (USV) intended for inspection of aqua farms. There is an increased focus on inspection of ocean-based aqua farms due to three major challenges: escaping fish, sea lice, and algae. Escaping fish may bring diseases to other fish or interbreed with wild fish and damage their gene material. Sea lice is a parasite that may seriously damage the fish, lower its food quality, and if not treated, can spawn and multiply into an epidemic. Finally, algae blooms may lower oxygen levels and kill the fish. To proactively counter these challenges, aqua farm operators need to regularly inspect the fish cages for holes, the water for algae, and the fish for sea lice. Modern ocean-based aqua farms are usually constructed with two rows of sea cages separated by a gangway in the middle, often with a small operation and machinery building at one end. Staff visually inspect the cages from above and from the nearside by walking up and down the gangway. Inspection of the outer side of a cage will normally require a boat with a human inspector on board, whereas subsea inspection will normally require a human diver. Here, we propose a USV design solution for this kind of inspection that provides the aqua farm operator with a remotely controlled unmanned boat and subsea video feed. A working prototype has been designed in less than six months and successfully tested at sea.