5G, drones and machine learning aid research in the Baltic Sea
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

The combination of drone gathered video footage, computer vision and 5G connections has been used in a trial by researchers from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) to monitor real-time environmental conditions in the Baltic Sea.

The system was developed by Nokia, Nordkapp, SYKE, Telia and Vaisala and was used to monitor the levels of blue-green algae in a trial in Kirkkonummi, Finland. The camera and sensor-equipped drone was flown over the Baltic Sea, and the high-resolution video was transmitted over 5G for real-time analysis.

“Blue-green algae monitoring is based on multiple sources of information, including satellite imagery and automated chlorophyll measurements from ferries sailing the Baltic Sea. This data is combined with local visual observations made at the shoreline. In the trial in Kirkkonummi, the drones operated over a wide area [beyond] line of sight, and the information was transferred in real-time to computer vision. Under good conditions, computer vision detected blue-green algae with more than 90 percent accuracy,” says SYKE’s Jari Silander.

In addition to monitoring blue-green algae, this combination of technologies can be used to track the spread of plastic waste or locate oil leaks, and the ability to receive information in real-time is expected to help environment specialists and researchers make better and faster decisions to prevent environmental hazards.

”5G technology has proved to be excellent in providing detailed and accurate real-time data for the computer vision, something that can be used in a variety of different areas,” said Pia Tanskanen, head of environment at Nokia. “This trial shows how 5G can make a real positive impact on what we can do for our environment.”

“Drones in combination with Vaisala’s computer vision capabilities provide unprecedented, real-time insights into environmental conditions. As we are continuously exploring new ways to apply Vaisala technologies for the benefit of society and the environment, we are extremely excited to be part of this initiative,” said Erik Sucksdorff, head of strategy at Vaisala’s Weather and Environment Business Area.

”5G, with its low latency and greater capacity, has already proven its usefulness in video analytics in industrial solutions. It is also excellent for drone management and communication, with the projected growth of drone traffic,” said Janne Koistinen, 5G program lead at Telia Finland.

”This pilot is a great example how we can together develop solutions for society’s pressing needs and challenges. Our role has been to explore new connections, find purpose for new technology and bring right players together. We are happy to see that this project lead to fruitful co-operation and real-life pilot,” said Ilkka Haavisto, business development director at Nordkapp.

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