The EU-funded UTOFIA project aims to develop video technology to make underwater observation more accurate and less costly than is currently possible.
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Underwater video cameras are important tools for monitoring the marine environment, fish stocks and pollution, and much more besides. For example, the cameras allow researchers to count salmon in a particular area as a means of estimating stocks. The data can then be used to support better management of the marine environment and fisheries.
However, current commercially available cameras that provide the kind of resolution and clarity needed in turbid waters are often expensive – a barrier to their more widespread use.
UTOFIA’s proposed underwater camera would extend the imaging range by two to three times compared to conventional video systems. The technology would also provide 3D images. 3D capability would make it easier for users to more accurately identify underwater objects, and to estimate their size with more precision.
The team plans to develop a prototype of the underwater camera by the time the project ends in May 2018. They say the technology would fill a current gap in the market between short-range, high-resolution conventional video and long-range low-resolution sonar systems.
The technology could be used in other applications, including for the inspection of subsea installations, harbour surveillance and seabed mapping. Underwater imaging can also be used to detect and provide estimates of pollution and marine litter.