Continuing from previous years LSTS is once again co-organizing the Rapid Environment Picture (REP) exercise with the Marinha Portuguesa. This yearly exercise aligns the interest of our different partners together with the opportunity to put our vehicles to the test in open water environments in Portugal.

The primary goal of this edition of REP is to demonstrate coordinated strategies for aerial and underwater robotic vehicles, in the context of specific pure scientific objectives. These vary from habitat mapping of the southern coast of Pico Island in the Azores, to observing and tracking cetaceans in open waters south of Pico near the São Mataeus bank and to map and characterize the upper water column near shallow hydro-thermal vents near Ponta de Espalamaca just north of Horta on Faial Island.

By bringing autonomous vehicles, we expect to achieve a number of goals:

  1. to test software algorithms and operational concepts which are novel and to do so in real-world surroundings
  2. to entrain a new generation of engineers and scientists in the use of robotic elements for inter-disciplinary science
  3. to entrain and collaborate with a range of scientific and technical personnel from different perspectives in ocean and environmental science and engineering

At REP-2015 we expect to have a mix of students, faculty and researchers from FEUP (Faculty of Eng. Univ of Porto), NTNU (Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology), DOP (Dept. of Oceanography, Azores), NUWC (US Naval Undersea Warfare Center), IH (Instituto Hidrografico) and CMRE (Center for Maritime Research & Experimentation). Each group has specific objectives which have been carefully melded together for an ambitious field campaign that begins with deployments from shore, which moves off-shore on the Navy/IH research vessel NRP Almirante Gago Coutinho and then returns to shore to continue with shore based operations all based out of Horta, Faial Island, Azores.

During phase I of this exercises, operations will take place on shore and near shore, to ensure scientific and cultural alignment with various groups working on REP15. On the Yellow Zone OMST/FEUP will execute military exercises aligned with the interests of Portuguese Navy, while on the Green Zone all the other teams will meet to start the test with all vehicles and systems.

In phase II, operations will be on board the NRP Almirante Gago Coutinho, offshore off of Horta. Driven by engineering goals, we hope to use our AUV’s, UAV’s and drifters to collect data which will allow the characterization of wakes of cetaceans and sample the transect along S. Mateus and Azores banks.

For phase III we will go back to near shore operations. Here our objective will be to map shallow vents in Faial/Pico channel, operating several vehicles simultaneously.

To see information about previous such field exercises visit sunfish.lsts.pt and rep13.lsts.pt

Operations Map