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System for the inspection of underwater infrastructures

Design/implementation of a low cost, open system for the
inspection of underwater infrastructures based on a
remotely-operated vehicle. This integrates high precision
positioning, automated locomotion and visual inspection.

The global objectives of the project are: - Design and implementation of a prototype system for the inspection of underwater infrastructures based on a remotely-operated vehicle. - Contribute to the exploitation of a unique business opportunity associated with the expected growth of the market for the inspection of underwater infrastructures. - Dissemination and demonstration of the encompassed technologies as well as definition of prospective exploitation plans. - Dissemination of a model for the University/Enterprise cooperation in an international setting. The partial technical objectives described below are defined following an approach of increasing risk which makes it possible to initiate the execution of a sequence of operational missions of increasing complexity very early in the project schedule. A rigorous Systems Engineering Process enabling the mapping of the stated objectives and constraints into a system- solution satisfying the requirements and the technological constraints will be adopted and be essential to ensure the effectiveness of the technical project reviews. The following partial objectives have been defined: - System design, defining the hardware and software architecture as well as the interface between the various components and subsystems. - Basic vehicle, consisting of a mechanical structure and an open computational infrastructure ensuring the basic locomotion functionalities and enabling the implementation of the more sophisticated subsystems to be developed later. - Acoustic positioning system, corresponding to the integration in the vehicle of a highly precise acoustic positioning system based on the processing of signals emanating from a network of transponders. - Visualization system, corresponding to the integration in the vehicle of a system allowing operator-controlled image collection and processing while positioning is ensured by the acoustic system. - Global positioning and navigation system, corresponding to the integration of the inertial navigation system with those mentioned above in the vehicle. This will allow semi-automatic modes of operation and very precise positioning to be achieved. - Final Prototype, consisting of a open system fulfilling the overall objectives of the project. The technical and scientific strategy underlying the project is characterized by the transfer of the technology addressing the computational environment, sensory data integration and systems for operation management, control, navigation and positioning, that ensure the autonomous operation of the REMUS underwater vehicle developed by FEUP and ISR, is a key point of the project's technical strategy contributing to minimize exposure to technical risk. A second important point of the project's strategy involves the acquisition of the vehicle's mechanical structure which will speed up prototype development. Furthermore, the supplier of this equipment, to be selected during the course of project activities, might be potentially interested in exploiting the results. Another advantage consists of the integration of the above- mentioned technologies with recent sensing technologies in a low-cost, computational environment based on an open systems approach which not only facilitates the maintenance and the system's reconfiguration to a wide variety of application contexts, but also makes it easier to upgrade the future system. This contrasts with the existing commercially available systems. The project tasks include several dissemination activities and demonstrations of results that will promote the technology transfer and the future exploitation of the project results. This aspect is further motivated by the existence of a follow-up panel including some major Portuguese potential end-users of the results. Keywords: underwater navigation, remotely operated, underwater inspection.
Acronym: 
IES
Project ID: 
1 991
Start date: 
01-12-1999
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
880 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.