Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA) - The Archipelagic and Island States Forum (AIS Forum) is assisting Indonesia in developing ARHEA, a sophisticated underwater drone that can monitor seawater conditions.

The tool for monitoring and measuring water characteristics based on digital technology was created by a lecturer at the Department of Marine Affairs, Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences, Padjadjaran University, Noir Primadona Purba.

Since it was first introduced at an AIS Forum meeting in Manado, North Sulawesi, in 2018, many participating countries have expressed their interest in purchasing the ARHEA, an acronym for Advanced Drifter GPS Oceanography Coverage Area.

"This makes us proud because almost 80 percent of the raw materials for this tool are made domestically and ARHEA is produced in Indonesia, except for the transmitter for sending data to satellites, which still has to be imported," said Purba in a written statement released by the 2023 AIS Forum communications and media team on Tuesday.

ARHEA comprises a 1-meter-long yellow aluminum tube with a diameter of 144 millimeters, and weighs around 15 kilograms. The tube is equipped with a number of sensors, batteries, data storage, a global positioning system (GPS), as well as communication systems via radio and satellite.

The tube can float in open and closed waters because it is equipped with a float. This means that the tool follows the water parcel wherever the current flows. At first glance, it seems to work like an unmanned aircraft or drone, the only difference being that it moves underwater.

The tool can also be used in closed waters such as reservoirs and lakes, and can be used to examine very shallow waters.

ARHEA is capable of diving to a maximum depth of 200 meters below the sea level. The tool is mostly intended to measure currents using Lagrangian measurements.

Before it reaches its deepest depth limit, a sensor sends a signal to the tool to immediately rise with the impetus of a rotor engine installed at the bottom of the tube. ARHEA is powered by a rechargeable battery that can be recharged every three months.

"Arriving at the surface of the water, this tool will immediately send data. Later, after all the data has been sent within 15–25 minutes, ARHEA will dive again," Purba informed.

He explained that the sensors installed can be adjusted to users’ needs to measure atmospheric parameters, such as air temperature, humidity, and water pollution levels.

Meanwhile, the parameters in the water can indicate the condition of salinity or salt content of seawater, degree of acidity (pH), water temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), and turbidity. ARHEA is even said to be capable of predicting fish population areas (fishing ground prediction) as well as mapping the areas.

With an accuracy range of less than 5 meters for objects recorded below the water surface, ARHEA can be used as a monitoring tool for marine protected areas by agencies related to maritime affairs and fisheries. The tool can be released into the sea using a boat or airplane.
ARHEA has undergone a series of trials in several parts of Indonesian waters, including Pangandaran in West Java and Pramuka Island, Seribu Islands district, in Jakarta. The sophisticated tool has also been tested in the waters of Suva, Fiji.

Given its usefulness, especially for island and archipelagic countries, the AIS Forum, together with the United Nations Development Agency (UNDP), is providing full support, especially in the form of grant assistance, for its development so that it can be integrated with new technologies in the marine sector to ensure a sustainable marine future.

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Translator: Yashinta Difa Pramudyani, Cindy Frishanti Octavia
Editor: Sri Haryati
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