Real-time Pipe and Valve Characterisation and Mapping for Autonomous Underwater Intervention Tasks

Authors Miguel Martín Abadal | Gabriel Oliver Codina | Yolanda González Cid
In xxxx, 2021.

Nowadays, more frequently it is necessary to perform underwater operations like surveying an area or inspect and intervene on industrial infrastructures such as offshore oil and gas rigs or pipeline networks. Recently, the use of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) has grown as a way to automate these tasks, reducing risks and execution time. One of the used sensing modalities is vision, providing RGB high-quality information in the mid to low range, making it appropriate for manipulation or detail inspection tasks. This work presents the usage of a deep neural network to perform pixel-wise 3D segmentation of pipes and valves on underwater point clouds generated using a stereo pair of cameras. In addition, two novel algorithms are built to extract information from the detected instances, providing pipe vectors, gripping points, the position of structural elements like elbows or connections, and valve type and orientation. The information extracted on spatially referenced point clouds can be unified to form an information map of an inspected area. Results show outstanding performance on the network segmentation task, achieving a mean F1-score value of 88.0% at a pixel-wise level and of 95.3% at an instance level. The information extraction algorithm also showcased excellent metrics when extracting information from pipe instances and their structural elements, and good enough metrics when extracting information from valves. Finally, the neural network and information algorithms are implemented on an AUV and executed in real-time, validating that the output information stream frame rate of 0.72 fps is high enough to perform manipulation tasks and to ensure full seabed coverage during inspection tasks.

Data to train, validate and test the network and information algorithms

GitHub repository containing the code to perform data curation, network training, inference and evaluation, along an already trained model. Finally, the code for the execution and evaluation of the information algorithms is also available.

Neural network segmentation and Information Extraction Algorithm qualitative results.

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