This activity is composed of testing of robots at sea in real environments. This testing will occur twice in the project in May 2023 and Summer 2024 and will coincide with the Baška GNSS Conference in Croatia. Two testing activities are forecast (one per year) to give more opportunities to students to face real environments and understand first-hand the complexities of deployments at sea. Introductory lectures will take place on the spot at the beginning of the activity. Moreover, while the first testing trial will be mainly focused on piloting and basic data collection, the second one will be more focused on environmental application such as macro-plastics detection and COVID-19 protection masks detection. This means that in the first testing, basic artificial objects will be deployed to create an obstacle course and test piloting skills. In the second testing, masks and other plastic objects will be anchored during the trials and fully recovered afterwards with no negative impact in the environment. The idea is to develop AI to recognize litter on seabed, including masks based on big data and show students that it is possible to collect and remove light litter such as masks using robots with additional gear (gripper). Furthermore, by implementing this idea, students will be directly contributing to the fight on climate change and its effects, as there are not yet mature solutions for detecting and collecting COVID-19 protection masks.
Within this activity, it is expected that the students will understand the complexity of the deployment and operation of marine robots at sea and will be able to perform real missions after having learned the piloting skills in the previous activity. We expect the students will also be able to analyse collected data and learn from the experiments how to mitigate environmental issues such as anthropogenic pollution. As well, it is expected that this activity will raise awareness to the environmental protection and mitigation and climate change.