OceanWatch : Deep Learning

Norwegian Special Mission in cooperation with Andøya Space Center and Norwegian Computing Center (NR) have been granted government financing by the research Council of Norway to develop the Next generation analysis tools for airborne ocean and coastal surveillance.


Surveillance of Norway’s coastal and ocean areas is largely based on airborne surveillance. Specially adapted aircraft with a wide range of sensors are widely used for e.g. mapping of fishing activities, characterization of oil spills, and search and rescue missions. On board the aircraft, operators are closely watching what the sensor outputs, and report on illegal fishing, oil spill type, etc. on a continuous basis.

Norwegian Special Misson (NSM) develops, manufactures and supplies monitoring systems that today are widely used for monitoring the ocean areas along the Norwegian coast. Andøya Space Center (ASC) provides advanced drone services with large fixed-wing drones that can be operated beyond radio line-of-sight. Unmanned aircrafts represent great benefits for monitoring coastal and ocean areas in the form of reduced costs, support for very long operations (up to several days), and the ability to carry out assignments that involve too much risk for manned missions. However, a central challenge when using drones for ocean surveillance is a limited capacity to transmit large amounts of sensor data via satellite.

The vision for this innovation project is to develop an AI solution that automatically interprets sensor data from the airborne coastal and marine surveillance. An automated interpretation will make it possible for NSM and ASC to offer future solutions that utilizes drones with high capacity and advanced sensors for operational maritime surveillance beyond radio line-of-sight. An automated solution will also reduce the need for manual interpretation for operations using small manned aircrafts. We will base our innovation on recent research on artificial intelligence, often referred to as “deep learning”. Deep learning has revolutionized machine learning, and has over the past five years, significantly improved performance by automatic image interpretation. R&D partner, NR, is one of Norway’s leading research institutes within data analysis. The NR team has strong machine learning, image analysis and remote sensing competence, and will be responsible for developing the AI that constitute the automatic solution for analysis of aerial images.