QPS Spotlight header

High quality seabed surveys using hybrid AUVs
and state of the art software

By: Jan Siesjö, SAAB Seaeye and Richard Hill, QPS

The acquisition of QPS by Saab opened the possibility for closer integration between the Saab AUV platforms and the marine spatial data software solutions from QPS. This resulted in a joint 2014 project to demonstrate a high end survey system capable of very accurate combined sonar, multibeam bathymetry, video and subbottom profiling. The system is based on Saab’s hovering AUV, capable of very stable autonomous close-up scanning of both structures and bottom features. The QPS data acquisition software ensures that all data is collected together with navigation data in an optimal way for precision and further processing. The result is merged data of high quality that is easily evaluated and exported.

The Sabertooth hybrid AUV is based on technology coming out of the Saab Double Eagle and SAROV vehicles as well as components from the commercial ROV range. The result is a vehicle that is very quiet and stable with advanced autonomy. The Sabertooth is also extremely flexible in that it is able to operate in various modes such as Tethered mode, Acoustic modem mode and Autonomous mode.

Software tools for data acquisition and processing
QINSy is the data acquisition software package used in the hydrographic and marine geophysical industry for more than 20 years. Qimera is the new data processing package. Fledermaus is an industry standard for 4D data analysis and visualization of results and data management through close links to GIS systems.

Integrated survey system
The following sensors were integrated for the trials:

    • R2Sonic 2024 MBES (bathymetry, backscatter and water column)
    • Edgetech 2200 combined SSS and SBP
    • BlueView M900-2250 imaging sonar
    • Tritech parametric SBP
    • Phins III INS with RDI DVL
    • AXIS industrial grade HD IP camera

Data workflow
QINSy is tightly coupled with the Sabertooth Control System (ICON) allowing the QINSy system to be remotely controlled according to the mission planning system, setting parameters and sensors for various parts of the mission. In addition, the Sabertooth behaviour based control system is able to use data processed in the QINSy system to enable tracking of bottom features such as pipelines.


QINSy real time display during trials.


Qimera is the latest tool for MBES data processing, and has the ability to work with raw as well as processed MBES data. The post-processed trajectory of the Sabertooth can be quickly brought into Qimera to improve the overall accuracy of the data results.

Additionally, the Fledermaus Geocoder Toolbox is used to process the MBES backscatter data and deliver a seabed mosaic and to estimate sediment types.

Using the Fledermaus Midwater utility, the MBES water column data can be investigated for features on or above the seabed that have not been picked up by the seabed tracking algorithm of the MBES. Using the signal processing capabilities of FMMidwater it is possible to visualize and extract features such as natural and artificial gas seeps, or manmade objects like chains, ropes, or the top of the mast of a wreck.

After the data is processed it can be gathered together and visualized in an interactive 3D scene using Fledermaus, and it shows the different data deliverables generated from the different sensors on the hybrid AUV. The scene also integrates the AUV track, recorded digital video and still digital camera images and be played back creating a fully immersive 4D view.

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