Bathymetric Surveys Conducted with UAV and Echo Sounder

By Mike Ball / 04 Jun 2021
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Drone bathymetric survey

Drone service provider ERELIS has recently used a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) equipped with a single-beam echo sounder to conduct a number of surveys in the Mediterranean and Dead Seas. The system consisted of a standard commercial DJI drone equipped with a SkyHub onboard computer by UgCS and a terrain-following system with radar altimeter, as well as an Echologger ECT400 single-beam echo sounder provided by SPH Engineering. The Eye4Software Hydromagic software package was utilised for data processing.

The data collected was validated by authorized local surveyors and reports from previous surveys of the same areas. Reference bathymetric data was collected using a manned vessel equipped with multi-beam and single-beam echo sounders, and demonstrated a good match between the results of the drone-based and traditional methods.

This method of bathymetric surveying of inland and coastal waters has been used in a number of countries, including Denmark and the UAE. The method has proven to be both time- and cost-efficient and suitable for mapping, measuring and inspections, as well as environmental monitoring.

Roman Kirsanov, CEO of ERELIS, commented: “I was surprised by the maneuverability of the system and how easy it is to conduct bathymetric surveys using a UAV equipped with an echo sounder. Some of our survey areas were 400-500m away from the take-off/landing positions, and that means that the term ‘remote sensing’ comes to the world of hydrography and becomes available to any drone service companies.”

Alexey Dobrovolskiy, CTO of SPH Engineering, said: “It is good to see that the applicability of our system with a single-beam echo sounder has been validated in conditions outside of its initial focus on small-scale surveys of inland water bodies, making it possible to do surveys without actual physical access to the area under investigation and in situations where it is not reasonable to employ traditional methods. Furthermore, thanks to our partner, we can now also recommend our system for small-scale surveys in coastal areas and in virtually any liquids – the density of water in the Dead Sea is 1.24kg/litre.”

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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
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