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Case study – HydroSurv

Case study – HydroSurv

How EIVA’s autopilot software and hardware helps HydroSurv provide accessible and scalable USV solutions

‘Working with EIVA on this autopilot has helped us ensure our USVs and their users can scale up – towards accessible autonomous technology deployed globally.’
David Hull
CEO of HydroSurv

NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot, EIVA’s total autopilot survey solution provides a fleet of benefits – through seamless integration between software and hardware, as well as the specially developed features of both. This solution took off to new waters when EIVA met HydroSurv, designer and operator of uncrewed surface vessels (USV) for inland, nearshore and offshore operations. This journey began with a mission…

The challenge of making emerging USV technologies accessible for more surveyors

USV technology has yet to achieve the widespread adoption it deserves – given the benefits include low fuel costs and carbon emissions. As an emerging technology, USVs are inaccessible to many, and we work to overcome this through our solutions.’ – David Hull, HydroSurv

In 2020, HydroSurv was looking for an industry partner that could help them expand globally by delivering autopilots for their USVs at a large scale. When they chose to work with EIVA, the two companies collaborated in further developing EIVA’s optimised autopilot hardware and software solution, NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot.

By leveraging EIVA’s existing resources, such as the well-established NaviSuite software, USV manufacturers like HydroSurv can provide a solution that helps to overcome challenges to USV accessibility like:

  • Getting started with a new technology, for example training users
  • Adapting to different project requirements

With the help of HydroSurv’s input, EIVA’s development team improved and sailed out NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot onto the market (officially released in 2022). In this case study, journey through EIVA and HydroSurv’s partnership in the stages of development leading up to this release. You will learn why HydroSurv has integrated this autopilot on several of their USVs to increase accessibility, scale up operations globally and keep up to date supporting emerging autonomous technological developments.

The REAV-28, shown here, is one of HydroSurv’s USV models, which has been integrated with NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot. Below it, you can see the vehicle control window of the software interface, which allows operators to easily input runlines, waypoints and much more

Easy to get started: Surveyors meet a familiar (inter)face

Before this autopilot was even a twinkle in EIVA’s eye, NaviSuite Kuda survey software was sailing the seas, providing surveyors with real-time QC data displays, automated coverage tools, comprehensive 3D data deliverables and more.

The offshore surveyors in HydroSurv’s team were familiar with EIVA’s NaviSuite software from their experience at sea – and they’re not alone with this. By choosing to use an autopilot that seamlessly works together with a software suite many surveyors already have training in, HydroSurv made it easier for new users of their USVs to get started surveying.

‘One of the challenges that face emerging technology is the difficulty and expense of training new users. We decided to equip our USVs with EIVA’s NaviSuite survey software, which is an interface already familiar to many surveyors, so they can save on the cost of training’ – David Hull, HydroSurv

In addition to having an existing user base familiar with the software, as a long-time key player in bathymetric survey solutions, EIVA offers many training opportunities, such as eLearning and virtual or classroom training courses. This all makes it ideal for helping new users get started with HydroSurv’s USV.

A 360 total solution: Leveraging the teamwork between sister companies

To provide a ready survey tool, HydroSurv chose EIVA as provider of not only survey software and control interface, but also provider of the autopilot. By further developing EIVA’s autopilot in cooperation, the teams collaborated to ensure that the software and hardware work together optimally for safe autopilot surveys.

Another way HydroSurv could ensure streamlined integration between parts in their USV was by partnering with several companies in Covelya Group, which EIVA is part of.

In order to best provide 360 solutions, we decided to work with several Covelya Group companies. We started out with positioning equipment from Sonardyne, then survey software and autopilot from EIVA, and recently we’ve been working with Voyis, who provides laser and optical payloads’ – David Hull, HydroSurv 

Watch the NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot in action, along with the NaviSuite Kuda software control interface

Remote survey solution sails forward benefits for operators

HydroSurv contributed with practical insights into the needs of surveyors for safety, flexibility and scalability – while EIVA developed and tailored hardware and software solutions to meet these needs.

Safety: Solutions developed for practical needs

One of the main concerns with any autopilot is safety. EIVA addressed this in the precise control and emergency stop features of NaviSuite Kuda software, but also by providing an ideal controller to go with the autopilot.

When switching between manual and automated steering, the choice of controller used is important to ensure safety, ease and quality. HydroSurv wanted a radio-controlled (RC) joystick solution optimal for the task through a rugged design and ensuring seamless integration with the autopilot’s hardware and software interface. This integration means the controller is plug-and-play, with the buttons and joysticks pre-configured for your use.

Preparing this ideal controller for HydroSurv is how NaviSuite Kuda – RC Joystick came to be a standard optional add-on with EIVA’s autopilot.

A REAV-28 USV using NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot during sea trials

Flexibility: Software supports a variety of project-based requirements

Investing in USV technology becomes more feasible if a USV operator can continue using one solution for a wide variety of projects. This is one of the goals of HydroSurv and EIVA’s partnership: to create the autopilot building block enabling HydroSurv’s ready-to-go USV solutions to be used for a multitude of tasks.

NaviSuite Kuda was designed to allow surveyors to use the same software for any setup. It supports a variety of survey and inspection tasks and is possible to integrate with virtually any sensor and vessel type – adapting easily to different project requirements.

This flexibility was also applied in developing NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot.

NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot supports both entry-level setups with widely available parts, as well as high-end professional level parts and protocols’  – Martin Kristensen, VP Hardware Development EIVA

To make USV total solutions more accessible for users such as freelancers and startups, HydroSurv offers leasing options, while EIVA tailors software pricing based on capabilities needed. For example, entry level surveys with a multi-beam echo sounder and LiDAR can be performed with the NaviSuite Kuda Core variant. At the other end of the spectrum is NaviSuite Kuda Pro + Processing, which may be chosen if advanced data processing tools are needed.

Check out NaviSuite Kuda tools for autonomous remote surveys 

Scalability: Keeping up with the growing wave of autonomous technology

NaviSuite Kuda is not only a complete toolbox for everything from survey planning and acquisition to processing and delivery, it’s part of a suite of solutions that are constantly growing, for example to enable data processing automation with Workflow Manager, AI image recognition with NaviSuite Deep Learning. Advanced features for autonomous operations are added to NaviSuite Kuda with each new version. EIVA is consistently in close dialogue with innovative partners like HydroSurv for input on these updates.

Resulting autopilot sails forward with support

In 2022, EIVA delivered the first autopilots to HydroSurv, with orders for more in the works. The autopilot is integrated as standard on the REAV-28, and HydroSurv continues to integrate NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot and software on more USV models.

It’s always challenging to integrate new core technologies. With an industry partner, we want to know that they will be there to help overcoming these challenges’ – David Hull described how HydroSurv experienced issues during an important integration sea trial integrating the autopilot on a new, larger USV model… ‘EIVA was there when we needed it – they put an engineer on the plane to help us out. This built a lot of trust that we can go forward and keep growing with EIVA as a partner’.

Products in play

Timeline of some significant events in EIVA’s survey software development

~1990:              NaviSuite provides tool for users to plan runlines and waypoints manually

2017:                New feature released: Coverage Assist tool for real-time automatic runline generation based on a defined area

2018:                EIVA creates the first prototype for the autopilot as part of a demo

2020:                HydroSurv and EIVA team up to develop the autopilot further

2021:                New variants of NaviSuite Kuda make the interface more simplified and user-friendly, a more powerful tool for USVs

2022:                NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot is officially released to market, with HydroSurv receiving the first order
                         NaviSuite Kuda software gets advanced automated runline planning features, such as end waypoint (define where the vessel should go to and park after completing the survey) and exclusion zones (areas the vessel should avoid while automatically surveying a larger area) to support the Autopilot