Aberdeen engineering firm develops new 3D imaging tool for oil and gas sector

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Cadherent can produce three-dimensional images

A new imaging device that can produce three-dimensional visuals of ‘hard to reach’ plant and equipment is set to be developed for use in the oil and gas industry,  thanks to financial backing from two Aberdeen-based institutions.

With support from the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC), engineering design company Cadherent worked with Robert Gordon University to complete the first phase of research into the technology which will allow operators to track then identify, classify and recreate 3D models of equipment.

The system – which the developers claims is ‘unique’ – will allow tools to be viewed in obscure environments, taking the ambiguity out of high risk procedures.

Cadherent is now moving into the second phase of development which will ultimately see a prototype system being developed.  The second phase is led by OGIC with support from The Data Lab, in collaboration with Robert Gordon University’s school of computer science and digital media, which also carried out the first phase testing.

Ian Phillips, OGIC Chief Executive, said: “This technology is going to be very disruptive when it comes to market as it offers a new solution to data gathering in challenging environments.

“The detail which can be recreated using this technology has the potential to cut down the time needed to develop and carry out procedures offshore.

“This is the first project that has been co-funded by two of Scotland’s innovation centres and is an excellent example of how different industries can collaborate to develop new technology solutions for deployment in the upstream oil and gas sector.”

Dr Eyad Elyan from RGU’s School of Computing Science and Digital Media, who is the academic lead for the project, said: “Throughout this collaboration we were able to develop, test and successfully evaluate key algorithms in these domains. In particular, the development of a mathematical technique to represent large volumes of 3D scanned images and the detection and tracking of objects from non-stationary cameras.”

David Thomson, Managing Director of Cadherent, said: “After proving the concept successfully in phase one we are delighted to be progressing to the second phase again with the support of OGIC and this time also with The Data Lab.”

Meanwhile – below the surface – advances in Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) technology and the challenges posed by a sustained low oil price will be amongst topics put under the spotlight at a conference later this month in Aberdeen.

Speakers confirmed for the event include Kieran O’Brien – energy researcher for Infield Systems Ltd, Albert Williams of Shell, Scott Gray – operations manager at Seatronics, Lee Wilson – engineering manager at Subsea 7, Chris Sotzing of SeeByte, Jim Mann of IMCA, and Mike Wilson – managing director of Ecosse Subsea Systems.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said: “The global underwater vehicle market is expected to grow significantly over the next five years as operators delve into deeper, harder to reach seas and the demand for enhanced ocean data increases. 

“Since the sharp drop in oil prices, underwater robotics have been seen as a key area of development for subsea interventions, as the industry has been forced to consider smarter ways of working, by adopting new techniques and technologies.”

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