Scientists launch Estonia's first autonomous maritime research vessel

On Friday, the Estonian Marine Institute of the University of Tartu unveiled its new autonomous robotic research vessel "Heli" at Tallinn's Hundipea Harbor. As Estonia's first unmanned research vessel, Heli is able to navigate the waters autonomously to carry out pre-programmed work plan.

Heli has a range of 300 kilometers and has been developed primarily to study of shoals of fish. This fall, Heli will be used to study wind farm territories as well as herring stocks, said Markus Vetemaa, head of the University of Tartu's Estonian Marine Institute.

The Tallinn  University of Technology (TalTech) researcher, who developed Heli's software solution says that in the future, similar approaches could also be used for larger autonomous platforms and for a variety of purposes.

"The first will be a hydroacoustic study of herring and turbot. Then we will do some seabed mapping, water sampling and phytoplankton sampling. But after that, the next part will be water sampling, maybe water chemistry analysis, which is further ahead," said Vetemaa.

"With a robotic vessel like this, you could monitor all sorts of marine infrastructure - for example, the Estlink cables between Finland and Estonia, [to see that] nothing suspicious or new has occurred there. [It could be used for] all kinds of wildlife surveys and things like that," said Heigo Mölder, researcher at the department of electrical power engineering and mechatronics at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech).


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Editor: Michael Cole

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