Robotic riverbed survey reveals unseen depths

January 17, 2017  - By

focus-35-tracking-survey-vessel-wThe Ribble River flowing through Preston in Lancashire, United Kingdom, has hidden depths.

“The challenge with rivers is that much of the beauty and interest is hidden from view beneath the surface,” said Jack Spees, CEO of the Ribble Rivers Trust. “To reveal this beauty, we undertook a bathymetric survey of a section with particularly interesting features that is adjacent to a heavily used public footpath.”

The trust is using survey results to reveal these hidden depths on interpretation boards, including digitally augmented reality and video media enabling visitors to explore the underwater world.

For the survey, a robotically controlled 1.2-meter twin-hull shallow draft vessel powered by a twin-jet system surveyed a hectare of the riverbed. It carried depth-recording sonar and a tracking prism that enabled a Spectra Precision Focus 35 total station to lock onto and robotically follow and record the vesssel’s location.

Echo soundings were transmitted to a tablet PC ashore via long-range Bluetooth and time stamped, while the boat’s position was continuously recorded by the total station and sent back to a tablet PC, also using long-range Bluetooth and time stamped.

The tablet PC ran 4Site, a program that formatted and processed the data from the sonar and the total station into a DWG drawing. Each point was positioned in real time, so the vessel operator could ensure complete coverage. A mesh of a 200-meter section of the river with depths to 3.5 meters was combined with aerial lidar data to produce the survey.

This article is tagged with , , , , and posted in From the Magazine, Mapping, Survey

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1 Comment on "Robotic riverbed survey reveals unseen depths"

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  1. William K. says:

    It would be really interesting to see some mapping of the Mississippi River down towards New Orleans. Half a mile wide and a few hundred feet deep is what I have heard. But real details might be very interesting. PLUS, who knows what is at the bottom??