Measurement techniques for underwater

3D acquisition and monitoring of large underwater structures using LiDAR

Offshore wind turbines, tidal lift power plants, drilling platforms, or port infrastructe are erected partly or wholly in water. Such structures require regular and as objective as possible inspection and testing. Today, this is carried out completely visually by divers, as no suitable measuring systems are available. With several thousand wind turbines alone in the North Sea and Baltic Sea and a multitude of drilling platforms worldwide, the inspection can only be carried out with an enormous expenditure of time and great risks for the personnel involved.

Within the scope of a research project, Fraunhofer IPM is developing a laser-based system for the 3D inspection of large underwater structures. The measuring system works based on a time-of-flight method having been fundamentally enhanced for use in the turbid medium of water. In addition to the hardware, the scanning system includes algorithms for fast and reliable data evaluation and interpretation. The complete system already exists as a prototype.

By analyzing several reflected pulses, the system ignores both results that do not originate from scattered light and interfering particles in the water. The integration of the complete system into an appropriate pressure housing and the use of special water-suitable components enables the use on remote-controlled or autonomous underwater vehicles. For the first time this will allow for efficiently obtaining very accurate 3D data for a wide range of underwater inspection tasks.


laser scanning

3D laser scanning of an offshore wind turbine foundation installed on a ROV. How does it work?

Under construction: water basin for underwater test measurements

A water basin is currently being built on our premises, in which we will be able to test our underwater LiDAR systems directly on site. The basin is 40 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2 meters deep, providing sufficiently long measurement distances for the development of our underwater laser scanners.