Minister Van Loan Announces Support for Sea Robotics Technology at Dalhousie University

Going Global Innovation fund supports international partnerships

(No. 243 - July 30, 2010 - 3:00 p.m. ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today announced that the Government of Canada will provide $12,000 to Dalhousie University to host an international workshop on unmanned robotic marine vehicles.

“The Stephen Harper government is investing in science and technology to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians,” said Minister Van Loan. “This workshop will gather experts from Canada and the United States to exchange the latest technologies and best practices in operating marine robots.”

Operating in an aquatic environment is demanding and unpredictable. Undersea and surface robots face unique challenges, particularly in communications and navigation. The torpedo-shaped, finned vehicles usually range in size from two to four metres and are packed with sensors.

One of the workshop objectives is to discuss how to give the vehicles more autonomy by teaching them to overcome unforeseen problems, such as making adjustments for a jammed control fin or changing speed or direction to accommodate unanticipated currents. This ability would mean the machines could stay out for longer periods and conduct more research.

“The Government of Canada is investing in this conference because we know the importance of this research to our marine communities and Canada’s marine environment,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Regional Minister for Nova Scotia. “I commend Dalhousie University for taking on this project and fostering collaboration with other universities and the private sector.”

“With this conference we will reinforce the role of Dalhousie University and Canada as key partners in the development of marine robotics technology,” said Dalhousie University President Tom Traves. “Canada has the world’s longest coastline, along three oceans, and two thirds of the planet is covered by salt water, so we need the best technology to manage the resource responsibly. Canada has the potential to develop and commercialize this technology in the global marketplace. This workshop is an important step in achieving that goal.”

The workshop at Dalhousie University will take place on September 23 and 24, 2010 and will attract researchers from Memorial University, the University of New Brunswick, the University of Guelph, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland. Government partners include the Institute for Ocean Technology at National Research Council Canada, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center from the United States and private sector firms from Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia and Massachusetts.

Funding for the conference is provided by Going Global Innovation. Its objective is to promote and enhance Canada’s international innovation efforts by linking Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises and researchers from universities and non-governmental research centres with leading research institutions abroad.

For more information on Going Global Innovation, please visit Global Commerce Support Program - Going Global Innovation.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Monika Bujalska
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Peter Van Loan
Minister of International Trade
613-992-9304

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000