Discovery Vision System: Transforming Dam Wall and Harbour Wall Inspections

Written by Patricia Sestari

June 27, 2023


The majority of underwater infrastructure inspections rely heavily on the use of divers. This practice should no longer be the industry standard due to the recent technological advancements available in the inspection market. The use of divers to inspect structures such as hydro dams, harbour walls and ship hauls yield limited and inconsistent findings, in addition to putting divers in potentially dangerous working environments.  

In today’s blog we will explore how, with the use of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) equipped with Voyis’ Discovery Vision System, it is now possible to obtain precise and repeatable inspections, without the need to put human lives at risk.  

Understanding Dam Wall and Harbour Wall Inspections 

It is imperative that critical infrastructure such as hydro dams and harbour walls are inspected and maintained on a regular basis, as outlined by government regulatory bodies. If these assets fail in a catastrophic manner, it will carry significant consequences at a social, economic and health level.  

Hydro Dams hold back significant volumes of water in their reservoirs that can wipe out entire communities and ecosystems located downstream of the facilities. Additionally, harbour walls protect against tides, currents, and storm surges, all of which can cause severe damage to coastal communities if left in disrepair. 

If these structures are not inspected regularly to determine corrective measures, the risk of catastrophic failure increases significantly each year. The purpose of conducting these inspections is to determine an overall condition assessment and determine locations of significant structural damage.  

Many still complete these inspections with divers. Most inspections include locating, measuring, and monitoring cracks, pitting, and spalling, all of which highlight the current structural integrity of the structure. All deficiencies noted by the diver must be passed along to a structural engineer to determine the condition assessment and any corrective measures required to repair the structure.  

There are limitations to this strategy that could be resolved with the use of high-resolution optical systems. Some of these challenges are:   

  • Time Constraint – Divers are limited to how long they can stay in the water before surfacing to take necessary breaks. 
  • Inconsistent Data Collection – Humans are unable to provide accurate repeatable inspections (providing accurate locations and in-depth analysis of deficiencies). 
  • Outdated Tools – Divers use outdated tools that limit the precision of measurements obtained while conducting inspections. 
  • Hazardous Conditions – Divers are often faced with dangerous working conditions caused by currents, poor visibility, and freezing temperatures.  
  • Communication – Divers cannot effectively note and convey all deficiencies over a large area to a structural engineer.  

The Discovery Solution 

The Discovery Vision System‘s precision enables data collection from distance ranges of 0.5m – 5m while maintaining image quality. With Voyis’ advanced camera technology, operators can zoom in on images without resolution loss, providing exceptional detail for inspections of all kinds. Whether inspecting dam walls for cracks or examining harbour walls, the Discovery camera helps identify issues with clarity and precision. 

Unlike traditional rolling shutters that cause image blur when pausing inspection videos, the Discovery camera employs a global shutter. Global shutter allows videos to be paused at any moment without image blur or resolution losses, enabling detailed analysis. Inspectors can examine potential problem areas after inspections are completed. 

The Discovery camera uses “Stills-Driven Video” to capture high-quality images with accurate time stamps at a higher frame rate. This technique benefits 3D modeling and precise assessments of dams and harbour walls. The images preserve resolution, dynamic range, and timing information for precise modeling and low-latency video streaming. 

The Discovery Vision System enhances operators’ situational awareness and depth perception with an ultra-wide field of view. This eliminates the need to tilt the camera, facilitating easier piloting and allowing for efficient inspections of dam walls and harbour walls. The wide field of view allows for unparalleled inspection capabilities, and the system’s ability to produce real-time colour correction and light leveling allows for clear operation even in turbid water conditions. 

The Discovery Vision System represents a significant breakthrough in underwater inspections, particularly for dam wall and harbour wall assessments. By eliminating the need for divers and offering advanced features such as precision data collection, and global shutter technology, the Discovery camera revolutionizes the inspection process. With its ability to conduct broad searches from long ranges and in close target point inspections, it empowers operators to identify and address potential issues with greater clarity, precision, and efficiency. The Discovery Vision System is a game-changer for the underwater inspection industry, ushering in a new era of comprehensive and precise assessments of critical structures. 

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