Each year, a few dozen rowing teams set off from the Canary Islands and cross the Atlantic without an engine or sail. Rowing 3,000 miles (4,800 km) to Antigua, they’ll spend months battling waves, weather and themselves while pulling at the oars in 2 hour shifts. It isn’t so much a race as it is a group challenge – the spirit is one of mutual cooperation where boats with 1-4 crew members set off cross an ocean. It’s called the world’s toughest row and perhaps most surprisingly, most teams actually finish. Of the last 38 to set off, 37 have reached the finish. The next race kicks off December 12 and as the date gets closer, you can follow the race tracker on the challenge website.
Singaporean researchers created this underwater drone that swims like a manta ray. Flexible fins give it the ability to glide through turbulent seas and while there have been other crafts built with a similar capabilities, the MantaDroid is the first to use just one motor for each fin. It uses the water around it to help control the motion of the fin and drive the drone forward. It can move about .7 meters per second and you’ve got to check out the video to see how similar it moves to a true manta.
Using satellite imagery and machine learning, we can now monitor global fishing fleets in near real time, including the previously opaque world of fishing on the high seas. It’s estimated that without government subsidies, over half of this $8 Billion market would be unprofitable, including all deep-sea trawling, a perennial culprit of extensive ecosystem damage. The high seas — marine waters that fall outside national jurisdiction — cover 43% of the Earth’s surface and the fishing of its depths is dominated by 5 countries: China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Spain. In their paper “The economics of fishing the high seas“, the authors dive into the technical details of their economic analysis and while it can get pretty dry in spots, the use of satellite imagery with advance machine learning is an incredible application of technology.