Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SINANN Report Summary

Project ID: 663947

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SINANN (Sonar INtegrated Advanced NavigatioN)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2015-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Accurate high-resolution Hydrographic survey data is a prerequisite to future blue growth economic development in coastal zone and inshore waters. The enabling technology, high frequency Multibeam SONAR, has been in existence for over two decades. Crucially, to survey the equivalent area of seabed in shallow water (< 50 m) is as expensive as the deep ocean. This is due to the proportional reduction in achievable depth-dependant coverage width per runline coupled with the increased relative complexity of the bottom topography; while survey runline patterns in deep water are comprised of straight forward parallel lines (lawn mower pattern), shallow water operations are characterised by complex contour following routines of far greater runline density. The error budget and tolerance are consequently reduced and shallow areas take longer than optimal to survey due to a combination of (a) conservative runline spacing to ensure overlap at swath extremities and (b) unexpected shallows resulting in data gaps requiring additional infill runlines. Conservative estimates indicate 10-15% of survey time is lost collecting redundant data and correcting errors. The root cause are the manual processes and procedures characterising conventional Multibeam SONAR deployment which are time consuming, prone to error, and often ad hoc, particularly in the work flow stages of survey planning, resource management, and in-the-field data collection. Relative to comparative capital intensive industries, Hydrographic survey exhibits a significant technology deficit in value added software. 3D visualisation, supervised processing, and GIS dissemination applications are well served while survey simulation, process automation, and sensor control are lacking, placing a choke on industry growth.

The Feasibility Study objectives were to verify the technological and economic viability of SonarSim’s Multibeam AutoPilot software product and formulate the commercial execution strategy to realise the full market potential of the product. MAP leverages the identified capability of SonarSim’s high-performance computational ocean acoustics SONAR simulation & processing software to unlock a tangible 10-15% efficiency improvement in coastal zone seabed survey operations. A key aim was to stimulate early adopter blue-chip end-user involvement for evaluation of the prototype productised technology. The key marketing objective was to raise the exposure of the product and to encourage market acceptance of the solution through effective disseminate of pilot projects results predicated on credible testimonials. The project helped formulate and cost the innovation based on the technical effect necessary to capture the identified market gap, the engineering resources required in productising the solution, and the acceptance metrics required to verify the product. The route to market was distilled and realisable sales pipelines and distribution networks identified, with a key objective of working towards establishing a consortium of joint venture partners for collaboration in Phase 2. The outputs are encapsulated in an elaborated business plan which formulates the demonstration, verification, prototyping, piloting, and scaling-up Phase II deliverables required to bring SINANN to industrial readiness for commercial exploitation.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The output of SINANN and prior SonarSim R&D are productised as MAP, the Multibeam AutoPilot. A number of business feasibility study and product development strands were conducted in parallel by the SonarSim team to advance the commercialisation of MAP, in particular market intelligence gathering, product development, business model refinement, and high-impact dissemination. To ensure that the project output was fit for purpose, management have continually engaged the market community, prospective end users, and our R&D partners throughout the project to harvest their input, feedback, and advice. The work done has served the purposes described in the proposal Work Package and reiterated simply as follows:
 the form of the product required by prospective clients have been defined
 a product demonstrator has been developed and made available for independent testing
 the tools and process to verify the KPI and ROI have been implemented
 the marketing message and its articulation have been significantly improved and promotional material generated
A more detailed breakdown is provided in the accompanying report.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

MAP is targeted at Hydrographic Survey Organisations (national charting programmes and commercial survey companies). The project technical objective is to automate existing manual survey procedures and decision making processes, to realise customer operational objectives of more efficient survey resource usage, simplified survey processes and decreased probability of survey mistakes. The performance of survey systems is equipment and situational dependant and the effectiveness of planning, prediction, and execution tasks primarily relies on the insight and knowledge of experienced surveyors creating an organisational knowledge imbalance. Managers require office based operational intelligence tools to inform resource scheduling and survey costing and complement the expertise of offshore personnel. High performance Survey Simulation redresses this imbalance by enabling database population with orders of magnitude more raw predictive survey analytics in exhaustive combinations of potential scenarios from which to distil the optimal survey execution strategy on a per contract basis. To realise the optimal survey methodology in the field requires smart adaptive supports tools which are not presently available and is the gap that MAP Offshore addresses. Automation of survey sensor and navigation control also frees the surveyor to concentrate on supervising quality control at a high level while the improved vessel navigation frees the helmsman to focus more on hazards in the water. The realised reduction in fatigue serves to improve overall personnel productivity as well as addressing the key market driver, reducing shiptime requirements.

There are a multitude of economic benefits to the public and private survey sectors. EEZ surveys are commissioned by the National charting organisations and programme strands can be funded for 10+ years with an investment of 100s of millions of Euro. Current survey work in mature civilian programmes is focused on shallow water coastal zones & bays due to the commercial benefits to navigable shipping lanes, renewable energy site selection, cable and pipeline installation, and aquaculture. As percentage savings can amount to millions of Euro over the duration of a mapping programme, MAP will directly target the major national charting organisations of the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Norway, UK, France, Portugal, etc. Civilian contract survey companies can gain competitive advantage bidding for work by undercutting rivals on cost due to the operational efficiencies afforded by MAP. Large survey companies’ costs are driven by the number of survey operations they can complete; with MAP technology they can decrease the time per survey and thereby offer a compelling competitive advantage. SONAR instrument manufacturers have a vested interest in acquiring MAP on an exclusive licence; it bestows a direct efficiency saving to their systems compared to competitor instruments. The value added competitive advantage is an attractive proposition. Similarly, SONAR data acquisition & planning software providers can harness the same competitive advantage by integrating MAP in the ping-to-chart work flow solutions. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles dive to depth to reach closer proximity with the seabed in deeper waters. Battery life is a key concern, restricting submerged survey runs, and requiring frequent recovery, battery swap-out and re-deployment. This diminishes the strategic advantage of employing an AUV, namely the capability to operate free of a supporting surface vessel. MAP can extend the coverage achievable via efficient data collection.

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