The drone, or autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), can survey mussels and scallops so accurately that their size, health, and any pests can all be detected, eliminating hours of costly and time-consuming manual work, says research lead Professor Richard Green.

Easily operated by novices, the AUV can also remotely inspect the condition of underwater structures such as wharf pylons and be used in salmon farming to scan nets for holes.

“The big thing about the autonomous drones is that they reduce cost and overcome labour shortages so that even more accurate information can be easily and quickly gathered to help crucial decision making, whether that’s stock health or checking for any invasive marine pests,” Professor Green says.

“We think this is the first New Zealand developed autonomous underwater drone. It means we’re leading the world in getting so close to underwater surfaces.

The research team has worked closely with Cawthron Institute (on mussel-based…