This chapter reviews the state of the art in robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) for monitoring the environmental characteristics of lagoons, as well as potential future uses of such technologies that could contribute to enhancing current monitoring programmes. Particular emphasis will be given to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), autonomous under water vehicles (AUVs), remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) and (semi-)autonomous boats. Recent technological advances in UAVs, AUVs and ROVs have demonstrated that high-resolution data (e.g. 0.4 cm imagery resolution) can be gathered when bespoke sensors are incorporated within these platforms. This in turn enables the accurate quantification of key metrics within lagoon environments, such as coral morphometries. For example, coral height and width can now be estimated remotely with errors below 12.6 and 14.7 cm, respectively. The chapter will explore how the use of such technologies in combination could improve the understanding of lagoon environments through increased knowledge of the spatial and temporal variations of parameters of interest. Within this context, both advantages and limitations of the proposed approaches will be highlighted and described from operational, logistical, and regulatory considerations. The chapter will be based on recent peer-reviewed research outputs obtained by the authors.
Part of the book: Lagoon Environments Around the World