Sonardyne has partnered with Guidance Marine for a project that will help unmanned autonomous vessels navigate even when they lose access to global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

The project will combine Sonardyne’s underwater positioning systems and Guidance Marine’s relative surface positioning systems into one integrated solution to enable vessels to maintain safe passage in GNSS-denied environments or for dynamic positioning systems to maintain their position if they lose GNSS access or other sensors fail.

The Innovate UK-backed project will also create a common interface structure to allow the different sensors to be fed into one platform and develop an industry standard.

The system uses Sonarydne’s SPRINT-Nav all-in one subsea navigation instrument, which combines Sonardyne’s SPRINT INS solution, Syrinx Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) and a high accuracy pressure sensor, into one integrated unit. The tight integration enables highly accurate acoustic-aided positioning by integrating sensor data from the DVL and/or other acoustic positioning inputs.

Additionally, it takes in position data provided by Guidance Marine’s vessel-mounted CyScan laser instrument, which takes range and bearing measurements from targets mounted on buildings or stationary surface structures in the ocean, to calculate the vessel’s position and maintain positioning between targets.

During trials earlier in 2018, a CyScan was mounted on Sonardyne’s Echo Explorer survey vessel incorporating additional GeoLock functionality. During a transit from Plymouth to Turnchapel the two instruments were used to calculate Echo Explorer’s position. Less than 0.5m positional deviation over a 1km transit was achieved during the trial, when compared with local, shore-based RTK GPS data.

Ongoing trials will incorporate water track velocity data, using Sonardyne instruments, to further aid the INS positioning. Guidance Marine will also deploy its SceneScan product, which maps surface features of structures, such as offshore oil platforms, processes point cloud data and applies simultaneous localisation and mapping techniques to provide relative position data.

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