The United Kingdom has plans to deploy drones to monitor a massive marine reserve around the Pitcairn Islands.
The drones will monitor a 322,000 square mile zone for illegal fishing, and will pipe imagery and video back to a central room where fishing vessels will be monitored on an on-going basis. It's a lofty project for a marine reserve of this size, but one that can much more easily be tackled through the use of drone technology than through traditional methods and manpower.
A US-based firm called Liquid Robotics is the creator of the drone, which can identify the difference between fishing vessels that are in open versus restricted areas and can snap photos of offending craft to be registered and catalogued.
The fascinating design of the drone is two-part:
- A submersible that acts as an anchor, which is tethered to,
- A boat that floats on the surface which includes the drone's instrumentation
The most amazing part, perhaps, is the drone is self-propelled in using the differential between the natural movement of the surface and the the region the drone travels to move along. This allows the drone to be at sea for months on end without the need for any maintenance or additional attention.
The Pitcairn Islands reserve is home to a wide variety of marine life, and using drones is the chosen method to protect this fragile ecosystem as carefully as possible.