Spring 2019

Industry support for advanced visual positioning system

Return To Scene (R2S) has won significant funding to develop a ground-breaking visual positioning system to boost efficiencies in the oil and gas industry.

Return To Scene has won significant funding to develop a ground-breaking visual positioning system which uses mobile device cameras to accurately locate people and equipment on complex offshore platforms, helping to boost efficiencies in the oil and gas industry.

The system, called R2S VPS will enable users to easily identify, with a high degree of accuracy, where workers, robots or drones are situated on huge, maze-like offshore structures simply by capturing images from their cameras.

The existing method can be costly

Currently, the only way to accurately locate people and expensive equipment on offshore platforms is through manual recording or the use of extensive hardware, such as RFID tags or QR barcodes, which can be costly and time-consuming to set up.

The VPS captured images can be automatically matched up with the existing R2S survey of structures, in real-time to allow users to identify precisely what a camera is looking at and where it is. 

Augmented reality

This allows users to see their surroundings through augmented reality which will enable them to easily navigate their way around any structure. Additional plant information can also be overlaid on any image allowing users to view important details such as the maintenance history of a piece of equipment, or its engineering drawings. This puts an unprecedented amount of invaluable real-time operational data at the user’s fingertips and means users will be able to co-ordinate activities more efficiently and immediately identify equipment and access detailed asset information. 

Project funding secured

The funding for this project has come from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) a government backed association that aims to promote innovation in North Sea oil and gas. The award will enable the Return To Scene team to kick-start the development of the system to help it meet industry demands to increase automation on offshore platforms and deliver efficiency gains and savings.

Return To Scene’s managing director, Bob Donnelly says:

‘We are delighted to have won the support of the OGTC and BP to bring our R2S VPS concept to life’.

‘There is no other system like this. VPS will take asset visualisation to a new level by offering live feeds of activities on any platform, providing accurate data on the locations of people and work sites which can be coupled with extensive information on assets pulled from multiple sources.’

‘Efficiencies like this are incredibly important when you consider that a worksite like an offshore platform has can measure in 300m3, house a population of a small village and contain hundreds of miles of pipework.’ 

The visual information captured can also be stored and later used to enhance a composite visual map of the site which will ultimately enable personnel or even fully automatic robotic systems to identify their location anywhere on a complex offshore asset.

A specialist team

The project brings together a specialist team from Return To Scene’s development team with BP as industry partner, working with technical support from Microsoft and pioneering expertise from Aberdeen-based software developer, Codify, as well as augmented reality (AR) for enterprise specialist, Mozenix, and Edinburgh-based cloud consultant, Pulsant.

It is thought that VPS technology could potentially open up a huge array of opportunities in a variety of markets.

Bob adds:

‘This project has also caught the imagination of companies across the James Fisher group, and with collective operations across industries as diverse as nuclear and infrastructure we already see considerable transfer application.’

Further information

Read the original press release: OGTC project approved for Return To Scene

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