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Camera 'sees' further in murky subsea conditions

07 January 2016

A new subsea camera has been developed that can 'see' two to three times further under water than existing cameras and calculate distances to objects.

Left: an image of a chessboard pattern taken by a standard camera at a distance of 7.5 metres. Right: an image of the same object taken by the new camera prototype (images: SINTEF)

SINTEF researchers are currently working together with partners in Europe to develop sensors and lasers for this new underwater camera, which is designed to make it easier to detect pollution on the seabed, facilitate marine species management, and carry out subsea inspections and maintenance.

Tests already carried out demonstrate that the project is on the right track. In order to demonstrate the camera's potential, the researchers constructed a frame which they placed on the seabed in Oslo Fjord in an area characterised by turbid water. They took pictures of their 'target' using the new prototype and compared them with those taken by a standard camera. Even the first version of the new system produced much clearer images than the standard system.

The prototype camera is based on the smart assembly of existing technologies, although the researchers will have to make some key improvements during the next two years. Developed as part of the UTOFIA project, it will form the basis of a new type of commercial camera technology that will be robust, compact, and easy to use.

The aim is to produce a camera with a volume of between five and ten litres. New tests will be carried out in Copenhagen in February 2016, and in the summer the first version of the camera will be ready – based on the specially-tailored components that will make it lighter, more compact and more powerful than the prototype.

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