Surveying inaccessible water bodies with USVs

Surveying inaccessible water bodies with USVs

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Brooks might contain shallow shoals or dams from the upper or lower streams. While surveying these, surveyors are likely to face safety, accuracy and efficiency issues. With that in mind, Hi-Target has come up with several innovative solutions for hydrographic surveying. 

In the world there are many unreachable, dangerous or inconvenient places that need to be surveyed such as the tailing ponds, narrow channels, ultra-shallow water ponds and lakes with barriers and so on. How to survey these areas with safety and efficiency is the question that Unmanned surface vehicles (USV) is going to answer.

Traditional marine hydrographic survey

Water is one of the most basic needs for all living creatures, civilizations built their towns around water sources such as rivers, brooks and wells. Our planet Earth is covered with vast amounts of water that we have not yet discovered. This amazing resource is filled with mystery. Due to the rapid development of urbanization, our interaction with water has also increased exponentially. With the need to explore and map out these unchartered territories, new hydrographic surveying solutions have evolved.

These innovative solutions such as multi-beam echo sounder, side sonar, sub-bottom profiler and even LiDar for topographic and hydrographic purposes, greatly contribute to the workflows for public authorities and private sectors all over the world.

Surveying with USVsIn order to increase safety measures during fieldwork to collect data, more flexible solutions are required. However, the picture is not all rosy. There might be encounters on brooks which might contain shallow shoals or dams from the upper or lower streams, in which surveyors may face safety, accuracy and efficiency issues. With that purpose in mind, Hi-Target has innovated and come up with several solutions for hydrographic surveying.

USV iBoat BM1

The iBoat BM1 is an USV that can work for more than 12 hours continuously. It has an auto pilot function that provides precision survey with a gap between each surveying lane, which is implemented (within 10 cm offset). On top of that, the boat can be easily sailed back automatically when the signal is lost or there is insufficient battery to return to its original station that is pre-set. The real-time camera data transmission assists surveyors in monitoring the boat from the bank.

This advanced and autonomous system consists of the vessel body, excellent echo sounding module and positioning module, along with a data communications system and a controlling system.

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Heavy traffic channel surveying

Since 1979, Pearl River Delta has been the most important economic engine and industrial area in China due to its availability for raw materials.

More than 30% of Chinese goods are produced or assembled there and exported to the rest of the world. The water network has hundreds of harbors which plays an important role in the export of goods and import of raw materials. There are plans to build more pipelines for electricity, gas and municipal water through some channels.

Surveying with USVs
Task goals: To finish a hydrographic survey within 20 cm accuracy; 5 channels where the pipelines are going to cross

However, before laying these pipelines, the contractor must survey the channels to collect the latest data of the water bed situation to draft the plans. One of the main Channels that the pipelines are going to cross is called the Modao Gate Channel, which runs 89.5 KM long.

Modao Gate Channel has more than 30 ports, thousands of factories, 45 million cargo volume and 70,000 dockings. More than 800 vessels travel through these waters daily, which can be quite difficult and challenging for surveyors.

The initial stage encompasses designing the survey lanes using online Google satellite images on the USV pilot software. The interval and length of each cross section lane can be easily implemented. Therefore, the USV is an ideal solution for the surveyors to finish the work on time without risks on safety.

Surveying with USVsWhen the USV is operated, it will sail either automatically or manually, with the capability of switching its work modes in real-time. During the surveying task, the USV avoided the heavy ships easily as soon as the controller sent the interception command into manual mode. Due to its flexibility and swift performance, this lightweight boat provides safety and efficiency for surveyors.

The data is transmitted from the boat to the laptop software where users can easily monitor the position, heading, depth and control the parameter setting for the sounding system from the safe bank area.

Once the surveying job is completed, the data is processed with results showing the contour of the riverbed, trajectory and project background map that can be overlaid together for further use as an important reference.

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