Tim Gallaudet, Jamese Sims, Elizabeth Lobecker, Amanda Netburn, Charles Alexander,Kelly Goodwin, and Alexandra Skrivanek. Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence, and Telepresence: Advancing Ocean Science at Sea in the COVID-19 Era. Journal of Ocean Technology, 15(4) 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of society, including seagoing marine science. Social distance measures and quarantine restrictions have required smaller scientific teams and crews on oceanographic ships. Advances in technology offer the potential to continue marine science discovery as the impacts of the pandemic persist. Robotics and uncrewed systems are already widely used in place of in-situ, human-operated systems, while autonomy and artificial intelligence are dramatically increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of nearly every ocean science discipline, including biological observations. Telepresence is a proven capability that can transform any vessel into a virtual international laboratory. We will describe how these tools are applied at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and how they provide capabilities to move ocean science forward over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.