Enabling a Platform for Habitat and Marine Assessment with Real Time Monitoring and Synchronous Databasing

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Conference Proceeding

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towed vehicles, underwater video, software design

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Quality data is important in making estimates of the current state of marine environments. At the Center for Ocean Technology at the University of South Florida, we have developed the Camera Based Assessment Survey System (C-BASS) towbody by combining the ease of off the shelf components with a custom software framework. C-BASS entails the integration of custom software and hardware components, off the shelf instrumentation, and web servers to distribute this data real-time to the user while storing all the parameters vital to the research endeavor.Key choices made during the design phase encompassed three main areas of focus; first and foremost was the ease of use for the operators of C-BASS while ensuring the robustness of the data collected. The topside client interface is based on a RESTful web api interface, creating a familiar environment for users entailing a modern web-browser as the only topside software for operators. The data collection entails a database synchronized to a GPS ship clock, including all towbody video, sensors, and sonar, as well as ship-sourced data such as sonars, positioning, and attitude. Therefore, in analyzing the data complex operations and custom data tables can be created from the relational SQL database. Second, there was a focus on the use of commercial off the shelf hardware components (COTS), software libraries, and applications to speed development. The base communications link was realized with digital subscriber line (DSL) modems over cables as basic as three internal conductors and a conductive outer shielding as a fourth conductor. While limiting the data sent through the uplink, the DSL modems remove the need for fiber optic cables and the operational needs associated them. Thus, the paradigm of a high bandwidth local data collection on the towbody and a low bandwidth real time link for real time monitoring of data quality during deployments, led to the development of a client-server model. Control and monitoring are done on the client side interface, while a small form factor COTS computer running Ubuntu Linux acts as the C-BASS main processor handling the server side backend, requests, and data recording.Last, prioritization was given to the ability for streamlined future enhancements. These enhancements can include additional or better cameras, new sensors, or changes to the user interface (UI). While the use of COTS components eases initial development, it also serves to keep the system in a modular design which assists later modifications. Further, the ability to utilize a wide variety of sensor interfaces allows for these components, and for a client side code display tailored to the user. However, it is in keeping an eye on being easily expandable that led to the design of sensor readers, with much of the code inherited from a generic parent function, along with the separation of such in the software framework from the tasks of data logging and data display in the UI. This paper will discuss the design choices that were made as well as the reasons for our methodology.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Presented at the Oceans 2018 MTS/IEEE Conference on October 22-25, 2018 in Charleston, SC