30 Mar 2016

Pitcairn drone tests could shape future of conservation

4:17 pm on 30 March 2016

A new type of surface drone being tested in the Pitcairn Islands could shape the future of patrolling and protecting marine reserves all around the world.

Deployed in February, the solar and wave powered craft from US developer Liquid Robotics is a new component of the "Eyes on the Sea" project which provides satellite surveillance of the world's largest marine sanctuary.

Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve.

Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve. Photo: Pew Charitable Trusts

The project is jointly funded by the British government, the Swiss Bertarelli Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust.

A director of the Pew Charitable Trust Matt Rand said the whole effort was a test to see what is the best way to monitor this huge marine reserve.

"The Wave Glider is actually picking up information and as it is picking up that information it is sending it to satellites which are then incorporating it into project eyes on the sea which is using additional satellite information to monitor vessels out on the ocean to see if there are any problems or any issues with illegal fishing that may be taking place in this marine reserve."

The wave glider is also capable of snapping and sending pictures of vessels it encounters along with their GPS co-ordinates.

The solar and wave powered "Wave Glider" from US developer Liquid Robotics.

The solar and wave powered "Wave Glider" from US developer Liquid Robotics. Photo: US Liquid Robotics