Mobile LiDAR

A project for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) culminated in the development of subsea LiDAR on a moving ROV.  The project required the mapping of seabed in the Monterey trench off the coast of California to study changes to the clam community over time.  Software was developed as part of the 3D at Depth data processing suite to utilize time based navigation data and attitude to correct the resulting point clouds.   The SL1 system scans in a continuous line scan pattern with the ROV moving in a consistent direction – in a push broom pattern.  This is similar to aerial LiDAR mapping applications but at a much higher resolution.

SensorPackage docRicketts
MBARI ROV Sensor Package Doc Ricketts ROV

The project is part of the long term MBARI initiative to develop an autonomous capability for 1 cm scale mapping of the deep ocean seafloor. Along with the SL1 subsea LiDAR, the sensor package consists of a 400-kHz Reson 7125 multibeam sonar. Position, depth and attitude data are delivered through a Kearfott SeaDevil Inertial Navigation System (INS) integrated with a 300 kHz RDI Doppler velocity log (DVL). For more information on the project please download the poster from MBARI on the right.

The MBARI project provides a template for similar applications for mobile subsea LiDAR and proves that the system can be used effectively for high resolution seabed mapping. Further work will determine if this technology can be used to augment the high accuracy application of metrology and field mapping.