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Reducing Costs Through More Effective Surveying

The exploration of more effective surveying systems is emerging as a critical path for operating companies seeking to reduce the time needed for collecting subsea survey data and to increase the quality and volume of data.

The problem is that survey data often is insufficient to adequately evaluate inspected equipment, resulting in the survey needing to be repeated. 

Researchers and engineers at Battelle in response have developed deep water monitoring gear that is earning kudos from stakeholders’ at all levels of the subsea video supply chain. That’s because it provides a video system that goes beyond passive, narrow field of view camera recordings.

What differentiates the Battelle system is that it has the ability to pan, tilt, and digitally zoom in a recorded 360 video stream. This dramatically increases the data available to survey engineers tasked with evaluation of subsea equipment. It also allows better management of the integrity of these assets to improve the life of the field.

Known as the HorizonVue™ M360 Video System, the Battelle equipment records all 360 degrees of a dive simultaneously – with one camera that has no moving parts. During the dive, as well as when footage is analyzed, the user is able to control a digital pan and tilt window to explore the video stream and investigate what is so often missed by the array of cameras typically used.

Battelle and Technip, with installation, training and mobilization support provided by Seatronics, an Acteon company, deployed HorizonVueTM in the Gulf of Mexico’s Green Canyon to inspect subsea oilfield equipment. The result was an interactive survey data package that includes what pan and tilts miss 2,200 meters below the surface. Survey engineers were able to capture detailed footage of subsea equipment and placement of marker buoys in a very deep subsea field.

HorizonVue “delivers information that we don’t normally receive in our survey data package,” said Iain Miller of Technip, USA. “The depth of information, and interactivity from 360 imaging software, gives us more information when analyzing the integrity of subsea assets. We can use this tool to communicate the status of equipment on the seafloor, and fuel better engineering decisions for the future of the field.” 

Better decisions translate into lower costs and a higher degree of certainty when evaluating subsea assets. Three-hundred sixty degree imaging solutions can save money by increasing the efficiency of surveys, reducing the chance of equipment damage, and minimizing the likelihood of having to repeat surveys due to incomplete or inadequate information. 

Hours wasted reviewing subsea video hoping that a pan and tilt will move toward a valve that needs to be verified open or closed, or searching for information in the data package that would have been captured had the camera view been just a little to the left, can now be significantly reduced. 

Recording 360 video ensures that if the object of interest was near the sub it will have been recorded. And once isolated within the software, it can be digitally zoomed in upon to gain a closer look. This approach not only saves time, but will help maintain the sanity of engineers.

While the camera may reduce the number of pan and tilts currently in use, it  certainly will not eliminate them completely. Instead, it is an excellent supplement to many of the onboard systems, especially when an event occurs just outside the field of view of the other cameras. 

Mechanical zoom and high quality HD images cannot be duplicated by simply adding more pixels over a wider field of view. Close-in inspection tasks are better suited for those systems, but the HorizonVueTM M360 Video System adds capability not achievable with conventional cameras on pan and tilt platforms. 

Everyone wants to control the pan and tilt

Different people on the vessel use the existing pan and tilt camera systems on the ROV for a variety of tasks. Pilots, supervisors, bridge crew, survey engineers, and clients all have different needs from the onboard camera systems. Pilots frequently have someone in their ear asking them to move the camera one way or another, taking focus away from flying the vehicle or the task at hand.

The HorizonVue™ M360 camera works over a gigabit Ethernet connection and transmits up to 10 MP resolution video data distributed over 360 degrees horizontally with a 65 degree vertical field of view. The benefit of using an Ethernet camera is multiple unprocessed streams that can be output from the host computer mounted topside in the rack. 

Connecting other computer systems around the vessel using an Ethernet switch allows the control computer to function as a server and stream unprocessed 360 video to additional devices around the vessel. Once HorizonVueTM software package is installed on the computer, any number of users (within the bandwidth limits of the server) can access the stream and manipulate up to three pan and tilt windows simultaneously without affecting other users. 

Video is recorded using the same method. Raw, unprocessed imagery is stored on a hard drive to be opened later with the viewing package to produce the same interactive environment as the live video stream. Hosted viewers are also available, requiring the user to simply open up their web browser, similar to the technology used to view interactive 360 videos on YouTube.

Recording and delivering the video

The majority of popular DVR manufacturers currently support coaxial inputs and the standard passive camera systems that dominate the ROV industry. Overlay and appropriate archiving are required components of the survey data package. Recording 360 video through these systems is currently limited to a screenshot type approach and the interactivity, or the resolution, is lost. 

But more Ethernet sensor solutions are quickly becoming available in the industry. The benefits of data collection over passive video are being more widely recognized as software is developed to transform these data sets into powerful evaluation tools. 

Some DVR providers have already gone this route, and it is only a matter of time before others follow suit. Overlay is being stored as metadata rather than burned directly onto the image. Independently of 360 video, Ethernet video streams will continue to grow in the industry, and the software systems that use them will continue to mature as well.

Until industry technology catches up with the HorizonVue system, network video recording software offers an inexpensive solution through correlation of the time stamp on the 360 video with that of the other sensor systems provided in the package.

The Battelle HorizonVue Video System’s unique viewing capability and real-time interactive features provide a new level of awareness for survey engineers. Collecting 360 video provides extensive value – and lowered costs – through significantly expanded survey data packages that deliver more information and require less time to analyze.

The Battelle HorizonVue™ M360 Video System is available from Seatronics throughout our global bases - click here to find out more. 

View the full article in ROV Planet - Page 14-17

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