June 2019 OES Beacon

Underwater Technology 2019 (UT’19) Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 16–19 April, 2019

Chau-Chang Wang, Technical Program Committee Co-Chair of UT’19

Figure 1. Group photo taken after the plenary session on April 17.

The IEEE OES international symposium on Underwater Technology 2019 (UT’19) organized by IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (IEEE/OES), IEEE/OES Japan Chapter, IEEE/OES Taipei, Taiwan Chapter, Taiwan Ocean Research Institute, and National Sun Yat-sen University, was held during 16-19 April 2019 at the International Building of National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) in Kaohsiung. The venue is on the fifth and sixth floors of the building where the beautiful Sizihwan beach can be overseen.

There were 146 researchers, students and professionals from 18 countries coming for this important gathering for the underwater technology community. In the symposium, two and one plenary talks were given on 17th and 18th mornings respectively. Two parallel sessions were arranged for the 70 talks such that the attendees could have the best coverage of participation at their own interest. In the exhibition hall, nine student posters drew the attendees’ attention about the young talents for the ocean, while seven booths demonstrated their up to date products and information for new solutions. This exhibition hall and several social corners were the places for refreshing old friendships and establishing new connections. The overture of UT’19 started with an Ice Breaker and Reception at the balcony of NSYSU Alumni

Figure 2. Ice Breaker and Reception at NSYSU Alumni Hall.
Figure 3. At the opening ceremony, Prof. Tamaki Ura (left) and Dr. Yeong-Her Wang (center) gave welcome messages;
Mr. Robert Wernli (right) briefed on the 20-year history of UT symposium.

Hall where delicious food and an astonishing sunset entertained every guest. At the opening, Prof. Tamaki Ura, General Co-Chair of UT’19, and Dr. Yeong-Her Wang, Technical Program Committee General Chair of UT’19 and President of NARLabs, gave welcome messages to greet the guests, followed by Mr. Robert Wernli, former OES Vice President for Professional Activities, briefing on the 20-year history of the Underwater Technology Symposium.

Plenary Session

Figure 4. Dr. Katsuyoshi Kawaguchi gave a plenary speech entitled “Submarine cabled real time observation and digital twin of tectonic plate boundary—The future of earthquake and tsunami prediction”.

Dr. Katsuyoshi Kawaguchi, the Director of Engineering Department, Institute for Marine-Earth Exploration and Engineering, gave the first plenary talk on 17th morning. Dr. Kawaguchi’s speech is on the development history of Japan seafloor observatory, and how this infrastructure helps Japan to endeavor for early warning time for mitigating disaster, such as tsunami. The second talk was given by Dr. Chi-Ming Peng, the CEO of WeatherRisk Explore Inc., Taiwan. He elaborated on the importance of “Open Data”, and how an open data structure can enhance the values of data collected by government agencies and private sectors. He also pointed out how new business can be created by opening and sharing data. The last plenary talk was on 18th, given by Dr. Ban-Yuan Kuo, Research Fellow of Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. He has been studying the tectonic plate structure and dynamics for more than two decades. In his talk, he mentioned that scientists strive to extract the secrets beneath the Earth surface with different tools overcoming all kinds of difficulties. On land, geologists climb up and down the mountains to collect rock samples. For the vast ocean covered seafloor, the evidence can only be retrieved with the help of underwater technology. All three talks gave the attendees insight into what the underwater technology can contribute to the society.

Figure 6. Dr. Ban-Yuan Kuo gave a plenary speech entitled “Underwater technology and the solid-earth science: bypassing the ocean”.
Figure 5. Dr. Chi-Ming Peng gave a plenary speech entitled “Making the weather and ocean data ecosystem through the public-private engagement”.

Technical Sessions
Professor Chau-Chang Wang chaired the technical program committee. The submitted abstracts were peer-reviewed, and 70 papers and 9 posters were selected by the technical committee for presentation categorized into the following topics:


Observatories and Applications

Vehicle AI Control

Instrumentation and Sensors

AUV Design & Development

AUV Navigation

Sonar Signal Processing

AUV Control

Acoustic Signal Processing

AUV Application & Investigation

Vehicle Tracking & Path Planning
We can see that the topics related to the AUV are the focal point of this symposium. This also serves as an indicator that autonomous agent technology is getting mature in solving many difficult marine and underwater challenges.

Figure 7. Technical sessions on April 17.
Figure 8. Technical sessions on April 18.
Figure 9. Technical sessions on April 19.

Student Poster Competition
The student posters were put on stands for the attendees to visit on 16th in the exhibition hall where many attendees walked around and chatted for new ideas. On 18th noon time, the judge group visited every poster, and listened to the authors and inspired them with the potential applications or insights of their work. After careful evaluation and discussion of their work, the first place was won by Miss Jenny Walker on “The effect of physics based corrections and data augmentation on transfer learning for segmentation of benthic imagery”. The second place goes to Mr. Anton Tolstonogov on “The compact ROV with variable center of gravity and its control”. The third place goes to Mr. Adrian Chan on “A belt transect fish abundance survey methodology using an underwater vehicle”. Two excellences go to Mr. Jing-Heng Huang on “Adaptation of a commercially available laser Raman spectrometer for underwater chemical sensing” and Mr. Junwoo Jang on “Dynamic grid adaptation for panel-based bathymetric SLAM”, respectively.

Figure 10. Exhibition booths and student posters.
Figure 11. Student poster presenters.
Figure 12. Student poster competition winners (from left to right): Ms. Jenny Walker, Mr. Anton Tolstonogov, Mr. Adrian Chan,
Mr. Jing-Heng Huang, and Mr. Junwoo Jang.

Exhibition and Social Event
There were six local and international companies setting booths for promotion. They are: Awareocean Technology Co., Ltd., Kongsberg Maritime Pte Ltd., Nijin Environmental Technology Co., Ltd., Sonardyne Asia Pte Ltd., AiTRIX GUAN HUNG TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD., and NORBIT SUBSEA. The organizing committee of OCEANS 2020 Singapore also joined us for promoting the event.

Figure 13. Local and international exhibitors.
Figure 14. Gala dinner on Sizihwan Beach.
Figure 15. UT’19 Logo.

The Gala dinner to greet all the participants and their ac­­companied family and friends was held on Sizihwan Beach on 18th evening. An NSYSU student band “Dreamers Quartet” played traditional Taiwanese melody and Jazz for the guests to enjoy the food and the unforgettable beautiful sunset. Professor Ura and Mr. Wernli each gave a farewell address prior to the announcement of the student poster awards winners. The party ended with a traditional Taiwanese Glove Puppet show by the Master Rong-Chang Wu to demonstrate the richness of Taiwanese culture.

Thank you all for helping UT’19 symposium such that everyone enjoyed a wonderful gathering of “academic friends”, as Mr. Wernli said. Looking forward to seeing you at UT’21 Tokyo.

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