The U.S. Navy has developed a software system that optimizes the collection of data for hydrographic surveys. The autonomous survey system, called AutoSurvery, is an easy-to-implement, real-time adaptive software system for the collection of swath-type data that minimizes survey time while maintaining data quality and ensuring the desired coverage.
AutoSurvey is applicable to all swath-type surveying systems with fixed angular footprints, and where the quality of the swath edge data can be monitored by real-time sensors. The software determines the effects of the environment and system performance on the collected data by grouping the data collection into a series of modules — data collection and error detection, data georectification, data quality validation, swath-edge fit, next-line waypoint generation, and autopilot. All of these processes are implemented in near real time, allowing unfettered survey progress. The data is applied directly between processes, providing operator-independent system operation; the AutoSurvey system directly controls the survey vessel via the autopilot.
Through real-time data acquisition, the system provides automation of the operator quality and coverage assessment tasks, and also provides quantified data. The operator can adjust the system operating parameters to compensate for ambient conditions, and to determine subsequent navigation waypoints as a function of the specified survey criteria.
The operator designates the survey area polygon, percent of sensor coverage desired, and starts the system. The software automatically determines the optimum path for the next survey line in real time using the edge of the current survey line. The output of the software system can be used for automatic control of the survey vessel if desirable. The software is particularly advantageous for performing surveys in highly variable conditions such as rough terrain.
Applications include side scan sonar, multibeam bathymetry, laser bathymetry, synthetic aerial radar (SAR), airborne LIDAR, and multi- or hyperspectral systems.
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