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First Taiwan unmanned surface vessel deployed in trip to Arctic

By Chen Chi-ching and Oscar Wu

TAIPEI, Taiwan – (CNA) Taiwanese and Polish geological scientists deployed the first Taiwan-made unmanned surface vehicle (USV) during a recent expedition in Kaffiøyra on the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard to study the underwater environment there.

The USV scanned terrain submerged under glacier lakes and fjords in Kaffiøyra during the scientists’ mission from August 4 to 13 to collect data able to help them understand the impact of the vanishing glacier on the underwater environment amid global warming.

The main component of the USV was invented by associate professor Lu Cheng-hao (呂政豪) and his team from National Penghu University of Science and Technology’s (NPU) Coastal Observation and Autonomous Surface-vehicle Technology joint lab, the school said in a statement.

The USV’s communication system, electrical-powered engine and self-control artificial intelligence system, which keep the vessel from colliding with obstacles, were later improved by College of Marine Resources and Engineering professor Chuang Ming-lin (莊明霖), other researchers and a tech company, the university said.

Other Taiwanese scientists on the mission worked on other projects related to climate change and its impact in the Arctic Circle, according to NPU.

Kuo Chen-hao (郭陳澔), a National Taiwan University (NTU) Department of Geosciences professor, used the Starlink satellite system to observe the links between earthquakes, melting ice and permafrost, and temperature changes, the university said.

Another NTU Department of Geosciences professor, Lin Li-hung (林立虹), took a piece of ice from the glacier to study the cycle of chemicals in the frozen water and carbon dioxide emissions from the melting permafrost, the university said.

Professor Liou Ya-hsuan (劉雅瑄), a colleague of Kuo and Lin’s in the NTU department, focused on the concentration of micro-plastics in the Arctic, NPU said in the statement.

Moreover, assistant professor Slawomir Jack Giletycz of National Central University’s (NCU) Department of Earth Sciences deployed a medium-sized drone with high-resolution cameras to observe the plain’s open terrain and geological structures, according to the university.

This Arctic expedition team was the fifth one assembled by Taiwan since the first one was formed in 2021 by NCU, according to reports.

The first expedition was followed by another two in 2022 and another one that had arrived in Svalbard earlier this month, the reports said.

In addition to trips abroad, NCU established the “Taiwan Polar Institute” in May 2023, which was the first research center in Taiwan dedicated to scientifically studying the poles, the reports said.



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