Understanding the World of Surveillance, Modelling and Visualisation
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)
AUVs could be described as the underwater cousins of UAVs, offering similar types of benefits, but from an underwater perspective. This autonomous technology is also developing at pace and the opportunities it can provide are growing equally quickly.
OSRL has already performed a number of exercises using AUVs; equipping the technology with fluorometry sensors to appraise their ability to detect oil in the water column, and to assist with mapping plumes and monitoring containment and dispersant activities. Further research is planned for 2019, with the objective of developing the bespoke equipment needed to best meet OSRL’s specific requirements and to create a core response tool for use around the world.
“Our aim is to continue to evaluate how autonomous surveillance systems, including AUVs, fit into our spill response operations, and the role that they might play in day-to-day monitoring. From the exercises we’ve already performed, we see huge opportunities for the use of AUVs in our response toolkit. They can reduce risk to personnel, trim the time required to understand the situation and provide ongoing information relating to our response activities. Another factor, which is perhaps even more interesting, is how we can combine the data from AUVs with UAV and other datasets to give us a more complete picture.
“We have also now signed call-off agreements with specialist AUV providers, including Blue Ocean Monitoring. The aim of which is to reduce mobilisation times through call-off agreements and partnerships and to ensure we are working with those at the forefront of the industry, providing our members with the most appropriate and cost-effective long-term solution,” added Pringle.
Satellite technology has seen significant developments in recent years, with the emergence of lower-cost mini and micro satellites adding to existing traditional constellations owned by the likes of Airbus and Digital Globe. This massively expanded network of orbiting satellites is providing a step change in the volume of data, frequency of image capture and time to delivery – all areas where OSRL could potentially leverage the opportunity to provide members with greater value from the technology.
“Satellite data has long been used by OSRL to provide visibility during and after an incident, as well as for long term monitoring and analysis to create products such as the global seeps database provided by CGG-NPA. However, during a spill, when time is critical, the nature of satellites physically orbiting the earth, above the cloud cover, historically meant that they weren’t always available when we needed them or that the imagery was of little value. Recent technological developments and countless new satellite launches has increased the frequency with which images of a specific area can be captured. Equally, advances in data transmission and ground receiving stations is reducing the time from capture to delivery. Advancements in automated detection and interpretation are also increasing the accuracy of reports and making the process more efficient.
“OSRL has recently signed a new agreement with MDA (A Maxar company), an operator of RadarSat 2 and provider of satellite imagery, to allow for more effective pre-planning and greater value for response and preparedness activities. We are also involved with several academic and industry projects that are aiming to improve satellite capabilities within the field of spill response, so we see it as an important area for us going forward,” said Pringle. One notable project we are supporting is for the CGG-NPA managed, European Space Agency funded project Offshore Asset Pollution Monitoring, the project will begin trials in mid-2019 for a period of 12 months. The demonstration will cover the contrasting environments of the UKCS North Sea, U.S Gulf of Mexico, and Malaysia, and is focussed on using satellite imagery as an integrity tool.