Machine being developed to detect oil and dumping at sea

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© Wikimedia Commons, Luca83

THE University of Alicante (UA) is working on a machine that detects in real time the presence of pollutants on the surface of the sea, such as oil.

The research and development project has public and private investment and, as reported by the university, has emerged after the disaster of the Prestige oil spill which occurred in Galicia caused by the sinking of an oil tanker in 2002. The spill polluted thousands of kilometres of coastline and more than 1,000 beaches on the Spanish, French and Portuguese coast, as well as causing harm to the local fishing industry.  

The overall objective of the project ‘ONTIME: Remote Operation Transfer Information Emergency Missions’ is to develop new advanced support tools for decision-making in real time on emergency missions. Specifically, from the Computer Research Institute of the University of Alicante they are working on an autonomous intelligent system that supports human operators on board aircraft in the process of detection and analysis of oil spills.

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“Currently, the maritime surveillance missions are monitored and controlled by a radar system. The aircraft flies over the coast and radars take information from the sea surface and it is stored in a computer for later ground analysis,” explained researcher Pablo Gil, a specialist in Physics, Systems Engineering and Signal Theory of the UA.

The ultimate goal is to apply this technology to simplify drones and surveillance missions and the work of operators. In the event that the new system detected a spot of oil or boat during a mission, the operator can better manage the emergency and take quicker appropriate decisions.

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