The SeaDetect project is composed of 3 systems:

  • A system installed on large vessels providing real-time detection of marine mammals and detections of other vessels and unidentified floating objects and related alerts
  • A Passive Acoustic Monitoring network based on buoys that will detect and triangulate the position of cetaceans in real time
  • Obtained detections will be shared through a dedicated application to inform other vessels of the risk of collision.

I – Detect Box

The detection box developed in the framework of SeaDetect will integrate several sensors such as a radar, a lidar, a panoramic optronic, a steerable optronic both in visible and Infrared and an AI system that will allow sensors data fusion, sensors allocation, objects classification and finally information interface  toward crew through an HMI. All these systems will allow the detection, localisation, identification of cetaceans. These detections will then be shared with vessels operating in the same area.

Infographic presentation of the detect box system
Presentation of the detect box system
Exemple of Seadetect on-board HMI
Exemple of Seadetect on-board HMI

Design of optical detection by NEXVISION

NEXVISION designs and manufactures advanced optronics to be embedded in complex and innovative vision systems.
For the SeaDetect project, NEXVISION will design a very innovative optical detection of cetaceans, based on artificial intelligence (Deeplearning) algorithms running on a dedicated designed electro-optics:

  • Optical sensors: bispectral  panoramic camera (150° ultra high resolution Thermal infrared and visible band) coupled with a steerable multispectral optical zooms (PTZ gyrostabilized gimbals) to spot at sea ;
  • Vision processing unit: multicore high performance AI processors, mixing GPUs, CPUs, AI accelerator and custom made hardware pre-processor (FPGA based);
  • HMI: a touch display pad as human-machine interface with ergonomic interface.

Integration of a LIDAR solution and a processing chain embedded by ONERA

ONERA lead a previous project devoted to maritime surveillance and demonstrated the potential of 3D-LiDAR technologies to detect small sea-surface targets (typ. 30 cm) at long distances (up to several kilometers). In this project, ONERA will develop:

  • A prototype based on a trade-off between existing 3D-LiDAR solutions and hardware integration constraints, including evaluation and testing of this prototype under real sea-conditions ;
  • An on-board processing chain and real-time 3D data exploitation, taking into account the sea-state.


DIADES Marine is a French company specialised in the detection of weak signatures in noisy maritime environment. We will contribute to this project by designing a marine radar with dedicated technology to detected cetacean. In time the radar will be interfaced with other onboard device in order to provide a global detection system.

This device will enable an up to date and precise positioning of the different species 24/7, which will bring a valuable anti-collisions system. This will dramatically improve the preservation of cetaceans and the security of the routes taken by the different vessel.

The first radar prototype will be installed onboard “la découverte du vivant » for data acquisition and a second prototype will be installed on “la méridionale” first vessel.

Here are DIADES MARINE task on the project:

  • Definition of the radar system, sensor specification and architecture ;
  • Design and production of a Cetacean orientated radar for the LIFE SeaDetect project ;
  • Installation onboard of “ la découverte du vivant” and the first vessel of “la méridionale” ;
  • Review of radar performances and system update if necessary.

System architecture by Naval Group/SIREHNA

Figure 1. High level description of sensor data fusion

Data fusion

In the SeaDetect project a dedicated and powerful RADAR, a LIDAR and several cameras will offer the capability of detecting cetaceans  and other kind of objects as well. In order to present a reliable, unique and high-level perception of the environment a data fusion process is needed.

Hence, Naval Group will study, implement and test a multisensor data fusion node that will estimate in real time the kinematics (positions, velocities, …) of all surrounding cetaceans and objects detected by the available sensors (RADAR, LIDAR and cameras).

This module will fuse all sensor-based detection information so as to produce the best situational awareness (in terms of accuracy, exhaustivity, …). State of the art data fusion and tracking algorithms will be used for this purpose.

Figure 2. Camera direction allocation principle.
Figure 2. Camera direction allocation principle.

Camera direction and zoom allocation

In the SeaDetect project, a powerful PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) camera will be available and can be used to obtain very clear and precise images of detected and tracked objects. When several objects are detected and tracked at the same time the question regarding the order of the camera guidance is raised.

For that reason, Naval Group will study, implement and test a module that will find an optimal plan for the camera direction and zoom allocations in order to ease and hasten classification of object.

Based on state of the art planification algorithms this module will compute an optimal ordered  list of objects that the camera has to follow. The state (availability, positions, …) and characteristics (moving speeds, zoom factors, zoom speed, …) of the PTZ camera as well as the current available information on the objects (position, speed, cetacean species classification uncertainty) will be considered in the optimization process.

II – Implementation of a detection and warning system by Quiet-Oceans

The approach developed by Quiet-Oceans in the project is based on an offshore detection and alerting permanent system which aim is to alert the vessels of the presence of individual species along their route.

This offshore infrastructure would enable to secure dedicated routes in which no speed restriction would apply. The benefit of the infrastructure approach is that a same network of buoys is mutualized for all vessels cruising in the area.

The demonstration of a prototype system will be implemented in the Pelagos Sanctuary in a high-risk collision area. The targeted species are Fin and Sperm whales.

Diagram of the offshore detection and warning system implemented by Quiet Ocean
Diagram of the offshore detection and warning system implemented by Quiet-Oceans

III – Detection sharing

Picture of a big boat near a harbor
Source: La Méridionale

Detections obtained through the SeaDetect project will feed into the REPCET shared detection system to inform equipped vessels of the risk of collision.

The REPCET system is based on the sharing of real-time voluntary observations of cetaceans and is limited to the crew’s human vision. The SeaDetect project will provide more accurate data to the REPCET system to increase its efficiency.