Vineyard Wind Developer Leveraging AI to Protect Marine Mammals

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Vineyard Wind and Charles River Analytics are collaborating to further protect marine mammals during the construction of the Vineyard Wind 1 project. As part of the effort, Vineyard Wind will employ Awarion technology for marine mammal, ship and fishing gear detection. The technology is being provided by Charles River Analytics, a Massachusetts-based research and development firm.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Charles River Analytics to advance local technologies focused on reducing the risk of vessel collision with marine fauna,” says Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus S. Moeller. “This partnership is being supported with funding from the Innovations Marine Mammals Program, which was created by Vineyard Wind to enable the development and demonstration of innovative methods and technologies to enhance protections for marine mammals as the Massachusetts and U.S. offshore wind industry grows.”

Awarion is an artificial intelligence and computer vision system that complements and supports human lookouts and marine radar systems. The technology uses electro-optical and infrared video to detect, analyze, and report on the presence of whales, ships, and other objects, including fishing buoys and equipment, at long distances.


“The knowledge we’ve gained through working with marine mammal experts at the New England Aquarium and veteran mariners has been incorporated into this technology,” comments Ross Eaton, principal scientist and director of marine systems at Charles River Analytics. “Awarion is a ‘win-win’ for our team in that it combines marine science and cutting-edge technology that will have a positive impact on the natural environment.”

“Object detection and avoidance are critical to the successful construction, operation, and maintenance of offshore wind projects,” states Elaine B. Coleman, Ph.D., vice president of commercialization at Charles River Analytics. “In addition to vessels and fishing gear, Awarion is uniquely designed to aid protected species observers’ (PSO) efforts to detect and protect the area’s marine mammals.”

Vineyard Wind will begin delivering clean energy to Massachusetts in 2023.

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