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Research project

BioCam - Mapping of Benthic Biology, Geology and Ecology with Essential Ocean Variables

Project overview

BioCam develops 3D visual imaging technology for seafloor mapping applications.

This project is funded by NERC (NE/P020887/1) under the Oceanids Marine Sensor Capital program, 2017 to 2021. BioCam is part of the National Marine Facilities Technology Roadmap, and forms the basis for ship-free monitoring of offshore oil and gas infrastructure under AT-SEA (Autonomous Techniques for anthropogenic Structure Ecological Assessment, NE/T010592/1) as part of the NERC INSITE program from 2021 to 2024 where BioCam will be deployed from the National Oceanography Centre’s Boaty McBoaface. We are also part of the team delivering the EU H2020 TechOceanS (101000858) project from 2020 to 2024, which will develop sensing technologies for ship-free ocean sensing.


Lead researcher

Professor Blair Thornton

Professor of Marine Autonomy

Research interests

  • Autonomous robotic platforms allow detailed observations to be made over large areas in the ocean. For these systems to be useful, it is necessary to develop advanced sensing capabilities and methods to allow the robots to safely navigate and accurately localize themselves in complex, GPS denied environments. Once observations have been made, it’s necessary to interpret the large volumes of data that are gathered in an efficient and scalable way. For more information on research activities, please visit the Ocean Perception research website.
  • Seafloor 3D visual reconstruction: Development of deep-sea imaging hardware and processing pipelines for calibration, localisation and 3D mapping of the seafloor with full-field uncertainty characterisation.
  • BioCam (NERC NE/P020887/1): Development of a deep-sea, high-altitude seafloor imaging system for monitoring seafloor ecological variables as part of the Oceanids Marine Sensor Capital program. This project is a collaboration with Sonardyne International Ltd, the National Oceanography Centre and the ACFR University of SydneyAT-SEA (NERC NE/T010592/1): 3D visual survey of decommissioned seafloor infrastructure using a shore launched Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (Boaty McBoaface) as part of the INSITE program. This project is a collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre. Automated interpretation of data: Development of AI methods for rapid scalable interpretation of seafloor imagery.
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Other researchers

Professor Adam Prugel-Bennett

Prof of Electronics & Computer Science
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Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs

Takaki Yamada, Adam Prugel-Bennett, Oscar Pizarro, Stefan B. Williams & Blair Thornton, 2022, Field Robotics, 2, 1134 - 1155
Type: article
Blair Thornton, Adrian Bodenmann, Takaki Yamada, David Stanley, Miguel Massot Campos, Veerle Huvenne, Jennifer Durden, Brian Bett, Henry Ruhl & Darryl Newborough, 2022, Oceanography, 34(4), 92-93
Type: article
Takaki Yamada, Miguel Massot Campos, Adam Prugel-Bennett, Oscar Pizarro, Stefan B. Williams & Blair Thornton, 2022, IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 45(1), 593-607
Type: article
Takaki Yamada, Miguel Massot Campos, Adam Prugel-Bennett, Stephan Williams, Oscar Pizarro & Blair Thornton, 2021, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 6(4), 7815-7822
Type: article