Sea Technology

DEC 2018

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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20 ST | December 2018 The objective of the Keokuk Dam hydrographic sur- vey was to develop the capability to map and inspect un- derwater structures with an unmanned surface vehicle, followed by the USV surveying the upstream and down- stream sections of the dam. The primary deliverable was a comprehensive, re- al-time, on-location hydrographic survey. This survey, in turn, resulted in a complete high-resolution bathymetric map and inspection report necessary to achieve the im- aging and scanning requirements for the Ameren Dam Safety Group. Earlier maps were developed using divers and manned surface vehicles. Not only did this technique put divers and other operators in harm's way but the resulting data lacked the necessary resolution to adequately detect scouring, defects or structural problems over a large cov- erage area. Using the autonomous USV equipped with the multibeam echosounder was expected to correct these issues. The USV solution performed as expected with excel- lent resolution and in a short amount of time. The final survey took less than two days to complete and was performed through the joint effort of a MANTAS remote operator seated next to a hydrographer. Operating as a team, the real-time USV track and the real-time display of the received echosounder imaging was coupled to achieve the best dam and bottom images possible. Based on the results of the Keokuk Dam hydrographic survey, additional proof of concepts were requested and demonstrated. As a result, other dam imaging has been performed and more are scheduled. With more than 26,000 dams in the United States deemed structurally unsound by ASCE, there is a large potential market for such surveys that don't put people at risk. Expanding USV Applications While the focus of this article has been on commercial applications of highly capable and well-equipped USVs, uses for these vessels are vast and growing. As industry partners continue to bring increasingly capable and so- phisticated USVs to U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Special Operations exercises, experiments and demon- strations, military operators will both help refine the mis- sions these USVs can conduct and demand that these systems be made available as soon as possible. In similar fashion, the continued introduction of USV technology into the commercial arena will continue to spread the need for USVs in a number of areas. Given the "D+" grade for all of America's infrastructure, USVs will likely be in increasing demand for survey operations for bridges, ports, inland waterways, dams, levees, canals and other infrastructure that cannot be safely or effective- ly inspected by humans. Furthermore, given the urgency of addressing Ameri- ca's infrastructure issues and the staggering cost estimates for repairs, funding will always be a challenge. Using low-cost, off-the-shelf unmanned vehicles to replace hu- man operators when inspecting infrastructure wherever

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