Scaling up reef ecosystem monitoring using underwater robots


The current approach to exploring and monitoring complex underwater ecosystems, such as coral reefs, is to conduct surveys using diver-held or static cameras, or deploying sensor buoys. These approaches often fail to capture the full variation and complexity of interactions between different reef organisms and their habitat. The CUREE AUV platform provides a unique set of capabilities in the form of robot behaviors and perception algorithms to enable scientists to explore different aspects of an ecosystem. Examples of these capabilities include low-altitude visual surveys, soundscape surveys, habitat characterization, and animal tracking. 


Yogesh Girdhar is a computer scientist, and the PI of the WARPLab ( at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), in the Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering department. He received his BS and MS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY; and his Ph.D. from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. During his Ph.D. Girdhar developed an interest in ocean exploration using autonomous underwater vehicles, which motivated him to come to WHOI, initially as a postdoc, and then later continue as a scientist to start WARPLab. Girdhar's research has since then focused on developing smarter autonomous exploration robots that, through the use of AI, can accelerate the scientific discovery process in oceans. Some notable recognition of his work includes the Best Paper Award in Service Robotics at ICRA 2020, finalist for Best Paper Award at IROS 2018, and honorable mention for 2014 CIPPRS Doctoral Dissertation Award.