AI-powered system maps corals in 3D in record time

AI-powered system maps corals in 3D in record time

Technology News |
By Wisse Hettinga

An artificial intelligence system developed at EPFL can produce 3D maps of coral reefs from camera footage in just a few minutes

From the EPFL research:

Corals often provide a colorful backdrop to photographs of shimmering fish captured by amateur divers. But they’re also the primary focus of many scientists, on account of their ecological importance. Corals – marine invertebrates with calcium-carbonate exoskeletons – are some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth: despite covering less than 0.1% of the ocean’s surface, they provide shelter and habitats for almost one-third of known marine species. Their impact also extends to human populations in many countries around the world.

The system can produce several hundred meters of 3D maps of coral reefs in just a few minutes from underwater images taken by commercially available cameras. It can also classify corals by recognizing certain features and characteristics. “With this new system, anyone can play a part in mapping the world’s coral reefs,” says TRSC projects coordinator Samuel Gardaz. “It will really spur on research in this field by reducing the workload, the amount of equipment and logistics, and the IT-related costs.” The research is detailed in a paper appearing today in Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

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