INS-Aided Subsea LiDAR Successfully Collects Mapping Data at Depth

By Mike Ball / 06 Apr 2017
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3D at Depth and IXblue INS-Aided Subsea LiDAR Data Collection

3D at Depth, a provider of advanced subsea LiDAR systems and solutions, has announced the success of a recent trial using Inertial Navigation System (INS) aided LiDAR data collection from a moving platform. The project was jointly sponsored by TechnipFMC and 3D at Depth with inertial navigation partner iXblue.

Under the Joint Development Agreement (JDA), 3D at Depth and iXblue successfully integrated and collected motion compensated subsea LiDAR data of an oilfield in water depths greater than 2000 meters. The trial validated the capability of INS aided subsea LiDAR for a variety of applications including field mapping and spool metrology out of straightness. Based on the results, 3D at Depth and iXblue have now developed a commercial version of the INS aided Subsea Laser (SL) mapping solution which will be available for field mapping projects. A second SL mapping solution is under development for a commercialized spoolpiece metrology solution that will launch in the near future.

Overall, the system incorporates 3D at Depth’s SL1 subsea LiDAR system, a Phins INS coupled with a 1200 kHz DVL, iXblue RAMSES and a 3D at Depth Subsea FiT (fiber/time Multiplexer) consolidated into a tightly coupled solution. During the trial, several characterization scanning passes were performed over a flow line and well center infrastructure to determine the preferred altitude and speed. Although these characterization passes added time to the data collection campaign, they provided important information for understanding the optimal parameters for performing field mapping and metrology. The well center and pipeline was surveyed with 25 pipeline transits and 54 well center transits at differing altitude and speeds.

Within the 10-hour trial, the INS aided SL1 collected more than 200 million points in 79 passes at altitudes ranging from 2 to 20 meters. The resulting high density point clouds were output into a robust industry standard e57 format that included geo-referenced spatial coordinates and the intensity of each laser pulse. (The intensity value is unique to the SL sensors as this information defines specific features including pipeline field joints, stenciled lettering on structures and umbilical’s on the seabed.)

The initial results demonstrate significant time savings for high resolution subsea mapping at altitudes from 2m to 20m with variable ROV speeds from ROV station keeping in heading control modeup to 2 knots. Post processing analysis of the dynamic point cloud data showed a very close correlation with existing static-scanned point cloud data for the same field.

“iXblue is excited for the opportunity to combine 3D at Depth’s unique time of flight Subsea LiDAR system with the best in class navigation provided by our Phins / Ramses subsea positioning system,” said Jim Titcomb, Offshore Technical Manager, iXblue. “Aiding to Phins utilizing Ramses with two acoustic beacons yielded highly precise results with 3D at Depth reporting 2cm registration delta between the mobile scans and the ground truth data set. Comparing a previous metrology utilizing a static based seabed SubSea LiDAR; scanning methods with the mobile point cloud resulted in a length measurement that differed from the ground truth by only 1.8mm over a range of 22.45m.”

“It is exciting to leverage my background in airborne and space based LiDAR methodologies to subsea applications,” said Brett Nickerson, Co-Founder and Director of Software Engineering, 3D at Depth. “Coupled with iXblue’s high performance inertial navigation technology, the 3D at Depth Systems is the highest resolution and most precise system of its kind for subsea mapping and metrologies.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact