Monday, September 25, 2017
Published: Jul 2015
Authors
  • Jan Siesjö
    • Jan Siesjö
    • Company: SAAB Seaeye
  • Frans Nijsen
    • Frans Nijsen
    • Company: QPS

High Quality Surveys Using hybrid AUVs and state of the art hydrographic data acquisition software

The acquisition of QPS by Saab opened up for the possibility for closer integration between the Saab AUV platforms and the data acquisition software from QPS. This resulted in a joint project in 2014 to demonstrate a high end survey system that was capable of very accurate combined sonar, multibeam bathymetry, video and subbottom profiling. The system is based on Saabs hovering AUV capable of very stable autonomous close up scanning of both structures and bottom features. The QPS data acquisition software ensures that all data is collected together with navigation data in an optimal way for precision and further processing. The result is merged data of high quality that is easily evaluated and exported.

  • QPS-Fig-1.jpg
  • QPS-Fig-2.jpg
  • QPS-Fig-3.jpg
  • QPS-Fig-4-.jpg
  • June-2015---SabretoothProject---Fig4.jpg
  • QPS-Fig-1.jpg Figure 1 Sabertooth development
  • QPS-Fig-2.jpg Figure 2 Integration block diagram
  • QPS-Fig-3.jpg Figure 3 Sabertooth with the survey sensors installed
  • QPS-Fig-4-.jpg Figure 4 Real time display during trials
  • June-2015---SabretoothProject---Fig4.jpg Figure 5 QPS Fledermaus 4D scene with integrated video imagery

Introduction

The acquisition of QPS by Saab opened up for the possibility for closer integration between the Saab AUV platforms and the data acquisition software from QPS. This resulted in a joint project in 2014 to demonstrate a high end survey system that was capable of very accurate combined sonar, multibeam bathymetry, video and subbottom profiling. The system is based on Saabs hovering AUV capable of very stable autonomous close up scanning of both structures and bottom features. The QPS data acquisition software ensures that all data is collected together with navigation data in an optimal way for precision and further processing. The result is merged data of high quality that is easily evaluated and exported.

Sabertooth

The Sabertooth hybrid AUV is based on technology coming out of the Saab Double Eagle and SAROV vehicles as well as components from the commercial ROV range. The result is a vehicle that is very quiet and stable with advanced autonomy. Using commercial components manufactured in larger numbers means that costs are kept down while still retaining high reliability and high availability of spares and support.

QINSy

QINSy is the real time data acquisition software package being out in the hydrographic and marine industry for more than 20 years, and is part of the hydrographic workflow of QPS.

Survey System Integration

In the spring 2014 Saab Seaeye and QPS started to assemble a high quality survey system based on the Sabertooth and QINSy. This resulted in trials in September October where the system was put through a number of survey missions. To achieve the best possible data quality the sensors are synchronized and timed to millisecond precision.

QINSy consolidates data acquired from different sensors in real-time and can process this data at the same time. All data can be viewed in various dedicated displays which allows for real-time QA/QC of the data.

The following sensors were integrated for the trials: 

  • Edgetech 2200 combined SSS and SBP, Simultaneous dual frequency SSS: 230/850 kHz, 2-16kHz chirp SBP
  • BlueView M900-2250 (dual frequency, 900kH and 2.25MHz), 130 degrees field of view imaging sonar
  • Tritech parametric sub bottom profiler R2Sonic 2024 MBES with external SVP for SV compensation
  • Phins III INS with RDI DVL
  • AXIS industrial grade HD IP camera

The reason why QINSy has been this successful is due to the flexibility of the software, it can be used for many different types of operations, such as dredging, hydrographic surveying, oil rig positioning and ROV positioning and surveying. It has support for more than a thousand different systems and interface protocols. The choice to have QINSy on-board of the Sabertooth system was therefore not difficult.

The QINSy software is installed on a computer on-board the Sabertooth and is configured to do real-time data acquisition of interfaced systems such as INS, multibeam echosounder, sidescan sonar, pipetracker and sound velocity profilers. In addition it is also configured to process the multibeam and sidescan data in real-time.

QINSy is closely linked to the Sabertooth Control System (ICON) as shown in the block diagram. This allows the QINSy system to be controlled according to the mission planning system, setting parameters and sensors for various parts of the mission. In addition the Sabertooth behaviour based control system is able to use data processed in the QINSy system to enable tracking of bottom features such as pipelines.

The tasks of QINSy on-board the Sabertooth is to meet the highest standards for hydrographic surveys, send and receive critical information to and from the Sabertooth ICON system. Besides that QINSy performs the data acquisition and storage of raw sensors, it is also able to control sensors that are on-board the Sabertooth.

The Sabertooth is also extremely flexible in that it is able to operate in various modes such as Tethered mode, Acoustic modem mode and Autonomous mode.

In tethered mode the AUV has a fiber optic tether which allows for monitoring the data from topside. A typical usage for this mode is in remote real time inspection work.

In acoustic mode there is communication from topside to the AUV through an acoustic modem. The AUV can perform a mission and there is some monitoring of progress and the option to intervene in a mission.

A fully autonomous mode is whereby a mission is pre-planned and will operate on its own. In this mode it is still possible that QINSy send processed data to the Sabertooth Control system for guidance aiding.

During the survey with Sabertooth, QINSy is able to record and visualize (depending on operation mode) real time the measured seabed, as well as backscatter information and visualize the water column data from the multibeam. This data can be combined with other real time collected data such as sidescan sonar and in the near future also subbotom profiling, providing extra information which can be very useful for decision making or to modify the mission of the Sabertooth. Typical products generated by QINSy are the raw data files, point cloud data files and gridded data. Each file contains a huge amount of Meta information that can be used for quality control and seabed interpretation.

After the survey the data can be retrieved from the Sabertooth in case it didn’t immediately send over the data to shore. The collected data can be further processed to a finished product and the results can be analysed using Qimera and Fledermaus software tools that are part of the QPS Hydrographic workflow.

Qimera is a brand new tool for multibeam processing, and has the ability to work with raw as well as processed data of the multibeam. Post-processed trajectory data of the Sabertooth can be brought into Qimera to improve the seabed data.

Additionally Fledermaus has the ability to process the backscatter data using the Geocoder engine for creating a mosaic and to do a sediment analysis, furthermore the water column data can be investigated for features on the seabed or above the seabed that have not been picked up by the bottom tracking algorithm of the multibeam. With the Water Column Data processing it is possible to visualize and extract these features such as natural and artificial gas seeps, or manmade objects like chains, ropes, or the top of the mast of a wreck.

When all the data is processed and gathered it can be visualised in a 3D scene, showing all the different produced products generated from the different sensor data. This can then be combined with the Sabertooth vehicle track, recorded video and still images and be played back creating a 4D view.

Jan Siesjö

Chief Engineer Saab Seaeye Ltd Business Area Dynamics

jan.siesjo@saabgroup.com

Frans Nijsen

Marketing and Sales manager QINSy

QPS B.V. Nijsen@qps.nl

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