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Michigan Tech To Unveil New Freshwater Testbed

The unveiling of the Maritime Autonomy Research Site (MARS), the first freshwater testbed of its kind in the world, will take place at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 10 at Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC).

The unveiling of MARS coincides with the launch of the Smart Ships Coalition, designed to study and set ground rules for the use of autonomous marine vehicles on the Great Lakes. The coalition is made up of scientists, policy makers, resource managers, innovators, navigators and educators that share a common interest in the advancement of autonomous technologies in marine environments.

The members of the coalition feel the development and implementation of autonomous marine vehicle technology is lagging behind that of air and ground operations. The coalition is looking to learn from those industries along with international partner organizations to provide advancement in the Great Lakes and U.S. coastal oceans.

Representatives of many of the coalition partners will be on hand for Friday’s launch ceremony. Among those expected to participate are:

  • Richard Koubek, President, Michigan Technological University
  • David Naftzger, Executive Director, Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers
  • Jon Allan, Director, Michigan Office of the Great Lakes
  • Guy Meadows, Director, Great Lakes Research Center
  • U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman
  • State Sen. Tom Casperson
  • State Rep. Scott Dianda
  • Bruce Kelly, Policy Advisor, Transport Canada
  • Kevin Kohlmann, Director, Office of Safety, Maritime Administration
  • Representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Debbie Stabinow and Gary Peters and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
  • Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit, Duluth

The MARS test-bed will allow technology developers, university researchers, resource managers and industry to collaborate to meet the future challenges in marine technology development, application and workforce creation. MARS is the first freshwater site of its kind in the world.

Following the launch ceremony, there will be an on-the-water demonstration of state-of-the-art autonomous marine technologies and opportunities to tour the Great Lakes Research Center.

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