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Optimising remote surveys – with real-time, intuitive, automated software tools

13 June 2022

Remote operations are integral to the future of hydrography – not only are they low-cost and low-carbon due to the smaller vessels required, but they help meet growing demands for trained surveyors around the world.

A skilled surveyor can remotely control surveys anywhere, even ones carried out at several places on the globe in a day, while staying close to the comforts of home – which is why EIVA has made sure that our solutions, such as hydrographic survey software bundle, NaviSuite Kuda, seamlessly support remote operations over-the-horizon every step of the way; from vessel control and runline planning to data quality monitoring.

usv navisuite kuda remote survey ROC

Check out a typical remote operation, which can be as simple as a two-man crew: one person with little training on site to deploy a USV – and one trained surveyor to operate it from wherever they are, whether on-site or over-the-horizon in a remote operations centre

Sailing towards the ideal remote survey setup

Through developmental projects and working closely with our customers, EIVA has identified the software capabilities needed for enabling effective remote surveys to be…

  • Real-time data – no matter what the bandwidth conditions are like, the remote surveyor must see the latest data so they can react quickly to any problems during a survey
  • Quality control (QC) visualisations displayed in the user interface – so remote operations are intuitive to monitor
  • Automation – by automating tasks like runline planning and data cleaning, surveys can be performed optimally without requiring constant surveillance, which lets surveyors focus on the tasks that require their knowledge thereby consistently covering more ground and providing the building blocks for autonomous operations

We will dive into each of these, showing you the software tools in action…

See what your vessel sees – when it sees it

One of the most important challenges to remote operations is low bandwidth. Operations are moving farther offshore and acquiring larger amounts of data – and so you can’t always guarantee that your bandwidth is good enough to stream it all to your remote surveyor in real-time. This is an issue, as it impacts how fast a surveyor can react to the data for example by retasking the vessel.

The solution the EIVA team has developed is a configurable tool to compress the data streamed to the remote. The data can be compressed across or along a swath or both – ensuring it is possible to compress it while maintaining a clear view of important data.

Quality control as you go – spot any issues immediately

‘The possibility of real-time data displays will let me react quickly to any problems during a survey, such as gaps in the collected data – especially because of the extensive list of data display tools in NaviSuite which I can use to quality check (QC) data,’ Rich Lear, an experienced surveyor, told EIVA in his guest blog on the recently released entry-level survey software variant, NaviSuite Kuda Core.

In NaviSuite’s powerful 3D modelling software, there are several capabilities allowing you to QC your data intuitively, including…

  • Colour data based on parameters such as depth, density and intensity
  • Combine multiple data sources, such as maps, CAD drawings and different sensor data
  • View your models from different angles
  • Create cross profile views to display depth along a line
navisuite kuda real time data fusion density dtm lidar

NaviSuite allows you to acquire several types of data simultaneously, and they can be displayed in real-time – for example here you see multi-beam echo sounder (depth on the right and density on the bottom left) and laser (upper left) data being collected and displayed on-the-go 

navisuite kuda cross profile tool for QC analysis of DTM

Shown here are more ways you can QC (quality control) a 3D model in NaviSuite – by looking at it from different angles and creating cross profiles 

Offshore, we use the EIVA QC Toolbox for any QC checks that may come our way,’ a BP North Sea Surveyor said in this case study on how EIVA created a user-friendly QC toolbox for BP to use as an all-in-one single survey solution, replacing the need for several programs.

Increase efficiency and free up surveyors – with a little help from automation features

In addition to real-time quality control, NaviSuite users get to benefit from a fleet of survey automation tools available. Automation heightens the benefits of remote surveys by saving resources such as fuel through increased efficiency, as well as making better use of trained surveyors’ skills by taking over on tasks that can be automated.

One such automation tool is the Coverage Assist tool for automatic, real-time adaptive runline planning. ‘The Coverage Assist tool frees up our employees from manual steering. It has a big impact on our operations – providing stable, optimal survey coverage and more engaging workdays for our employees as they can focus on tasks needing human knowledge and input.’ – Anders Wikmar, Clinton, in this case study on the Coverage Assist tool which EIVA originally developed for Clinton.

navisuite kuda hydrographic survey radio-controlled joystick manual

Adaptive runline planning with the Coverage Assist tool

Data processing done in real-time – fast results mean fast action

Another benefit of automation is that you can have deliverable data on your screen before your USV is retrieved – which means that if there are any problems in the collected data, you’ll know about it while the USV is still on-site and be able to react fast. This is possible because, in NaviSuite, data processing can be done automatically in real-time!

The many small steps in data processing can be automated with the workflow automation tool, Workflow Manager, which is included in the NaviSuite Kuda + Processing variants.

workflow automation in NaviSuite for data processing DTM point clouds

Check out the capabilities of the Workflow Manager tool 

In addition to automating the workflow, NaviSuite Kuda provides tools to automate individual data processing steps, like data cleaning. All variants of the NaviSuite Kuda survey software bundle include EC-3D, EIVA’s automatic data cleaning tool. With this tool, you can create a customised filter which will clean you data in real-time during acquisition.

ec-3d data cleaning automatic filter DTM deliverable live

Real-time seabed data cleaning with EC-3D – displaying the raw data (left) and the cleaned data (right) 

A building block for autonomous operations – integrated with hardware

Hand-in-hand with complementary hardware solutions, NaviSuite Kuda’s breaks the waves for autonomous surveys… EIVA has developed several hardware solutions which are fully integrated with NaviSuite software to ensure autonomous operations run smoothly.

As an example, unmanned surface vessels (USVs) can make use of EIVA’s recently launched autopilot for superior USV control and precise line-keeping, NaviSuite Kuda – Autopilot. While autonomous underwater vessels (AUVs) can be equipped with an onboard computer to run Workflow Manager for onboard processing, as well as an onboard computer to run AI-based software tools supporting autonomous operations with automated eventing, QC and navigation-aiding. If you would like to learn more about the possibilities for autonomous operations with your vessel, feel free to reach out.

 

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