UnCruise Adventures IT Department Wins Navy Challenge Project with Innovative Whale Detection System
The New Thermal Detection Camera System Has Been Installed on the 22-Passenger Vessel, The Safari Quest
JUNEAU, AK, April 5th, 2023 – UnCruise Adventures, the small ship cruise line dedicated to sustainable adventures have won the Navy Challenge Project for Autonomous Detection of Marine Mammals. The cruise lines winning design solution combined below water acoustic sensors, above water sensors and a data collection system. The team included Dave Boyce, UnCruise Adventures Solutions Engineer, Joe Olson of Cetacean Research Technology and Dean Allen of Small PC.
Dave Boyce with new Whale Detection System in Seattle Office
The challenge required the development of a system to detect whales using onboard video and audio sensors. The Navy put out a call for innovative ways forward to enhance the real-time detection of whales in high traffic areas. The UnCruise Adventures IT department, and Navy Challenge Team Leader, Dave Boyce, overcame multiple challenges for implementation, including identifying and collecting data with reduced visibility, tracking route change recommendations based on multiple targets identified, the direction of travel, and vessel vibration impact on video and audio. The award included a grant of $50,000 to assist in the research and development of commercialization of this whale detection system.
“UnCruise has always been a steward for reducing our environmental impact by focusing on small adventure cruises and working with local community and business members along our routes. We saw the US Navy challenge, asking for a solution to help detect whales using onboard video and audio sensors, and jumped at the opportunity.” shares, Navy Challenge Team Leader, Dave Boyce.
The new platform, including a FLIR M400 premium multi-sensor marine thermal camera, was recently installed on the Safari Quest, a 22-passenger vessel that sails in Coastal Washington and Alaska for UnCruise Adventures. Its first passenger sailing and live whale detection test with cruise passengers will be April 28th, 2023. The UnCruise Adventures team has partnered with local organizations to continue to support the development of technological solutions that enable the autonomous detection of Southern Resident Killer Whales and Northern Right Whales.
"The marine ecosystem is fragile and needs to be protected. One of the key components of our company’s mission statement is to actively promote environmental protection through education, actions, and our own initiatives that promote responsible cruising," added Captain Dan Blanchard, Owner & CEO of UnCruise Adventures. “I am delighted that Dave and our IT Department have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to sustainability. Their hard work and dedication have earned them a well-deserved grant and winning recognition, which is a testament to their commitment to making a positive impact on our planet.”
Installation on the Safari Quest for UnCruise Adventures
This challenge is the first phase of a multi-stage effort aimed at producing a system possessing combined multi-sensor data streams.
The innovative solution includes a data collection system that can record time-synchronized audio sensor data with video recordings. The onboard PC performs the initial detection and data can then be transmitted to the cloud for future analysis. The collection methodology includes 2 below-water acoustic sensors, hydrophones with a bandwidth capable of detecting killer whales and right whales’ acoustic emissions, and a thermal video camera.
This groundbreaking achievement has sparked great excitement and interest within the industry. Jaime Dery, Vice President of the Americas for Teledyne FLIR states, “We are very excited to see UnCruise using our technology to detect and avoid collisions with whales and other marine mammals. Protection areas and speed zones are becoming more common on US waters on both the east and west coasts. We offer a full range of cameras to fit everything from large oceangoing vessels to small pleasure craft and fast sportfishing boats. These cameras all offer object detection capability that enhances navigational safety and helps to preserve marine life.”
The winning design not only benefits the cruise industry but also has the potential to be used by other industries, such as shipping and transportation, to prevent collisions with marine mammals.
Rachel Aronson, the Program Director of Quiet Sound, a program that aims to better understand and reduce the effects of commercial vessels on whales in the State of Washington shares, “We know that when mariners become more aware of whales, they can take safety measures, like slowing down, taking another route, or posting extra people to watch for whales. Quiet Sound is excited for UnCruise to pilot this real-time system for detecting whales while underway, which holds great promise for helping Washington's whales and blue economy thrive together.”
UnCruise Adventures' dedication to protecting the marine ecosystem, paired with its innovative approach to technology, continues to set it apart from other cruise lines.
Book your next adventure with UnCruise and experience the wonders of nature while knowing that you are traveling with a company that cares. Find more at uncruise.com or contact your local travel advisor.
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About UnCruise Adventures
UnCruise Adventures’ is a responsible travel and adventure leader in the small boat industry. They operate boutique yachts and small boats carrying 22-86 guests on voyages in Alaska, Hawaiian Islands, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés, Prince William Sound, Columbia & Snake Rivers, coastal Washington, Galápagos, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, and Colombia. UnCruise Adventures has been picked as the top adventure cruise line by Cruise Critic, multiple times and Travel & Leisure readers also named UnCruise Adventures in its World’s Best Awards and its list of top 10 small ship ocean cruise line for multiple years in a row. UnCruise Adventures is a member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association and Transformational Travel Council.
About the Navy Challenge
Government, State, and local organizations across the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast Regions of the United States are collaborating to support the development of technological solutions that support autonomous detection of Southern Resident Killer Whales and Northern Right Whales. Each region faces a similar challenge of working to protect key marine mammal species while supporting a growing density of maritime traffic and technologies, to include autonomous vessels. The Department of Navy Northwest Tech Bridge at NUWC Division Keyport, Northeast Tech Bridge at NUWC Division Newport, Impact Washington, 401 Tech Bridge, Maritime Blue, and Quiet Sound are partnering on this prize challenge to drive development of these solutions.While each partner has their own goals, this prize challenge focuses on solutions that support the common overlaps between them. Solutions that can be leveraged by state, public and private interests to further protect these identified marine species.