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New 3D technology eases utility location

Technology developments in the utility location space are allowing operators comprehensive systems that are easily transportable, while still offering the best 3D imagery on large-scale projects and minimising operator error.

Advancements in the development of ground penetrating radar (GPR) systems now allow for full 3D capture of underground assets, using densely packed arrays of dual polarised GPR antenna in systems that are vehicle towed or light enough to be hand pushed. This 3D capture capability means that companies involved in large-scale construction projects can now be provided with super clear geo-referenced 3D imagery of subsurface features over large areas while still onsite, allowing them to make preliminary decisions quickly and without significant delay to their operations.

The 3D imagery from these systems makes interpretation of the information easier, thereby minimising the chance of operator error, which normally relies on the interpretation of traditional 2D GPR radargrams.

Real-time 3D imagery also allows tracking of the exact location and orientation along pipes rather than requiring operators to cross pipes at set intervals, as is the case with 2D GPR systems. As such, there are significant efficiency and accuracy benefits in utilising array GPR system for 3D utility mapping.

Stream C and Stream UP

The Stream C hand pushed array system and the new Stream UP air launched towed array system are IDS GeoRadar’s exclusive answers to ‘Reality Capture’ – the real-time 3D mapping of underground utilities. The systems automatically detect subsurface assets thanks to arrays of antennas in dual polarisation and an innovative automatic pipe detection (APD) algorithm running OneVision real-time 3D acquisition software.

The APD gives the operator the ability to easily detect the underground assets and generate 3D utility geometry in a much shorter time. In addition, Stream C and Stream UP’s seamless integration with GNSS or Total Station equipment guarantees that correctly geo-referenced data is obtained in all survey conditions.

All utilities and buried objects detected during the acquisition phase can then be automatically transferred to computer aided design (CAD) and geographic information system (GIS) formats allowing for a complete subsurface GIS based digital map to be produced quickly.

Results from the systems have been identified as providing an important additional tool to be used alongside traditional utility locating techniques, to improve the level of accuracy and understanding of complex subsurface utility networks.

Figure 1 (see below) shows a high-resolution 3D GPR dataset collected with the Stream C system at a site in Brisbane, Queensland. The data collection time for this 45m by 15m site was 10 minutes with total data interpretation and pipe picking time being an additional 45 minutes.

Figure 1: The 3D dataset collection and interpretation from Brisbane site.
Figure 1. The 3D dataset collection and interpretation from Brisbane site.
Figure 1: The 3D dataset collection and interpretation from Brisbane site.

With a total time of 1 hour spent, a high-resolution image of the subsurface was able to be provided in a very short period of time.

For more information visit IDS Georadar.

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