The AMBIOS project will develop the world's first fully autonomous platform for the detailed mapping of biodiversity in the ocean and show its function in the case of selected Mid-Norwegian waters. The envisioned system combines the access of the project partners to state-of-the-art marine research vessels and autonomous technology with their expertise in the fields of biotechnology, marine biology, automation, computer science, and modelling. The marine research vessels will be equipped with a wide range of sensors, cameras, and sampling devices that shall automatically identify marine animals and characterize their environment. By analyzing the complete water column from surface to seafloor, the platform will enable comprehensive mapping of marine life in unprecedented detail at reduced cost. The autonomous marine biodiversity mapping system will be developed and implemented in the area around the Trondheim fjord. It will provide in depth insight into the occurrence and complexity of marine animals and microorganisms, allow autonomous navigation of research vessels based on the detection of marine species, and enable identifying the most interesting micro-biodiversity for the discovery of new enzymes and bioactive compounds. The technological developments in the project will be complemented by assessments and communication of opportunities and possible consequences of AMBIOS as a new concept for marine exploration and bioprospecting.
The collaborative project AMBIOS aims to develop the world's first fully autonomous platform for multi-layer mapping of biodiversity in the marine space and validate it on selected use cases in Mid-Norway. The envisioned system is enabled by the consortium's unique access to marine research vessels and autonomous technology, in combination with its transdisciplinary expertise in the fields of biotechnology, marine biology, automation, ICT and modelling of ocean dynamics. The autonomous marine vessels will be equipped with sensors for physicochemical characterization, instruments for automated water sampling, and an underwater video recording system for AI-based detection of macroscopic species in the benthos. Targeting the complete water column, the platform enables comprehensive mapping of marine life in unprecedented detail at reduced cost. We will apply the system to survey three areas of biological, ecological, and economical interest around the Trondheim fjord, and leverage samples and acquired data for three main purposes: Firstly, improve our understanding of how variations in micro- and macro-biodiversity are intercorrelated and with physicochemical parameters. Secondly, extend the existing ocean model SINMOD to allow prediction of biodiversity from real-time sensor data and connect these predictions to the autonomous navigation systems used on the research vessels to enable AI-based systematic data acquisition and targeted sampling at areas of interest. Finally, we will extract and sequence environmental DNA from selected water samples with most interesting micro-biodiversity for the purpose of bioprospecting, searching for novel enzyme-encoding genes and biosynthetic gene clusters of potential value in biotechnological or medical applications. The technological developments in the project will be complemented by assessments and communication of opportunities and possible consequences of AMBIOS as a new concept for marine exploration and bioprospecting.