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5G, drones and machine learning aid research in the Baltic Sea

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.

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