Kobe Marine Technology Conference

We wanted to attend the session ‘Blue Economies of India’ this morning but the day 2 jetlag syndrome was hitting us both pretty hard.

Sessions today included: ‘Plankton Image Classification via Multi-class Imbalanced Learning’, ‘Fish recognition from a vessel camera using deep convolutional neural network and data augmentation’, and evocatively titled ‘Application of deep learning to underwater invasion warning system’.

The emphasis on deep ocean resource extraction has surprised me, although as I spent more time observing who was selling and buying in the room I got less surprised and started asking questions like, “So…how do your environmental monitoring sensors support underwater mining?”, well, “If you are going to select and prep an ocean floor site for your automated mining operation you are going to need to know everything about it.”. Of course you are!

The exhibition was super interesting – the number of ROV and AUV products that have appeared in the last couple of years was amazing. Their applications for research were familiar, and while their legacy rested in research a lot of their marketing was obviously targeted to mining and resource detection.

Lots of sea floor mapping technologies, and array sensors were being represented. I heard from many salesman who noticed my OSU badge, “Hey! We sold you a bunch of sensor packets for the OOI How are they working?”. Not my department.

The international companies selling large mining ships were fascinating. I had no idea.

Large engineered ‘smart’ aquaculture pens were represented by several manufacturers. I had to ask what made them smart. I should have know that ‘smart’ meant automated: Feeding, harvesting, and parameter failure detection.

Once I got more discerning about my ogling and started talking to people I realized how many attendees were small technology development companies trying to figure out how to break into the ‘ocean business’. Once they stopped posturing I was able to have some really great conversations and answer some good questions – mostly about how to become a partner on a federal funded project.

A product a lot of people were talking about was ‘Open ROV’. I looked them up. Two guys in a garage who wanted to treasure hunt but couldn’t afford it. They made their own ROV system. Rick Spinrad mentioned them in his plenary talk. Pretty cool. I got the distinct sense that the big ROV manufacturers had mixed feelings about them.


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