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offshore oil rig exteriors - photogrammetry solutions ?

Phill Pittman

New Member
Jan 22, 2018
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Being involved in reverse engineering from the early days of cad, I get questioned frequently about some solutions I have applied to my own practice. I have not been active in a public forum for quite some time, but now hope to share what little I can in hope that some of the bumps I have overcome may be avoided by others just trying to get the job done. I encourage sharing alternative solutions and opinions that we and our clients might all benefit from.

I have scanned numerous offshore oil platforms with phase shift laser scanners for more than a decade and getting the accurate piping and structure is quite predictable now.

Although we have created the necessary work-arounds to get the exterior data that must be collected from above the water , it is more of a challenge extending and stabilizing your scanning gear outboard over salt water. I have owned photogrammetry software since the mid 1990's and have sufferred through its development and road blocks created by hardware limitations. The last 5 years in particular have been joyfully liberating and enabling.

Photogrammetry has been accelerated exponentially by the introductino of GPU processing. Even my laptop runs 2500 threads simultaneously. 5 years ago 16 threads was all I could hope for in my budget.

Drones have been more than a small part of the total solution. Still there have been practical limitations and concerns even now.

General areas of consideration before heading offshore or into a secure facility will be some topics I would like to share and hopefully get some feedback on. I'll only intoduce one general topic per thread so we might stay somewhat focused.

Topic 1. Offshore rigs; The inevidable salt water bath.

No amount of planning and care can guarantee a dry trip offshore. From "iffy" weather that must be ignored, to equipment glitches/failures to signal interference there is probably a wet/salty day in store for your drones and cameras.

My laughable, but functional personal solutions.

Self inflating keychain fob.
Small item about the size of the remote for your car. It costs about $7.95 and weighs in under 1oz.
Upon immersion it inflates a bright orange tube about 2 feet long that will provide positive buoancy for most drones and cameras. It can be directly attached to a small package or connected by a small roll of monofilament longer than the depth of the water below. Of course you need a " pocket fisherman" or rod and reel for recovery if you do not have a safety boat standing by to pick up your precious.

Safety boat. If you are flying out, there is not much you can do other than hope there is a light vessel at your disposal at the rig. If you are heading out on a crew boat, a small pedal driven kayak is a great place for a safety man below. They can take incredibly rough water comfortably and safer than a powerboat.

Waterproofing your gear before it gets dunked.
Nothing is foolproof, but there are some advantages you can put on your side of the scale.
Think for a moment about the spray sealers in a can you see advertised on TV and you will say, that is great for a leaking gutter, but stupid on a drone. Heavy thick, etc.
You should now engage your since of humor before proceeding, but I am trying to be serious without laughing my A** off. Spray on condoms. Available in condom stores and online. It does just what you are picturing in your mind. It provides a very quick drying waterproof seal that will simply peel off when the project is done. The same material is also sold as "spray on gloves", but is sold through medical supply houses at a greatly increased price.
I run a thin piece of tape over any wide cracks before spraying and the seal is perfect. You don't need to spray the wholle drone, just the joints. A single can will last for dozens of battery and memory card changes. I use the medical tape as it works as a great background and is easy to remove with no residue on your gear.
But be forewarned. If you pull out a can of "spray on condems" at an oil rig you should consider putting masking tape over the label first.

Some of the topics I hope to breach in the future are;
1. Posibility of using a SMR on drone with laser tracker for absolute camera positioning in flight. The
trackers are often on site for target/benchmark registration.
2. Semi automated cad piping detail from point cloudes. Mainly software selection.
3. Light weight large scale registration targets. both 3d and flat targets and your experience with each. I would love to figure out a way to deploy them from a drone. I am working on a light ( drone mounted ) paintball gun to quickly add color and unique shapes within the scene.
4. Using drones for PS for smaller objects as autos and smaller. Comparitively close range photography with hundreds of high res photos per object.
Great Info. I don't plan to fly oil rigs but living in Lake County FL I fly over a lot of water. Even have a float kit for the Mavic. Nothing really good for the bigger drones. I like the self inflating key fob and the water proofing ideas.

Looking forward to your next topic.

Thanks again,

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