AI 3D mapping of reefs, a tech revolution

The Transnational Red Sea Center is proud to present DeepReefMap, an AI system that can map in 3D several hundred meters of coral reefs in just a few minutes from underwater images taken by commercially available cameras, and classify corals by recognizing certain features and characteristics, with a quality that is far superior to previous techniques, which were limited in space, slow and not as accurate. The system can be used to assess the state of a reef as well as to monitor its evolution over time, making it an exceptional tool for environmental management.

This revolution in terms of mapping of coral reefs was developed under the supervision of Prof Devis Tuia, head of the Environmental Computational Science and Earth Observation Laboratory (ECEO) within the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) at Ecole polytechnique fédérale in Lausanne (EPFL), and his PhD student Jonathan Sauder.

This new technology was tested in the Red Sea as part of the Transnational Red Sea Center's missions in Jordan, Sudan and Djibouti in 2022 and 2023, and is now being used - or about to be used - by some of TRSC’s partners in the region who’ve been duly trained and equipped. It represents a scientific breakthrough on a global scale, given its phenomenal potential in terms of effectiveness, time and cost.

EPFL PhD student Jonathan Sauder doing a 3D mapping transect in Djibouti, November 2023. © Lukasz Warzecha I LWimages
Pro Devis Tuia (right) after a 3D mapping transect, Djibouti, November 2023. © Lukasz Warzecha I LWimages
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