Developing Remote and Autonomous Operations for the Hydrographic Industry Partnership Program (HIPP)


The Australian Government has selected Fugro to join the HydroScheme Industry Partnership Program (HIPP) to increase Australia’s hydrographic industry capability. Remote operations and uncrewed surface vehicles (USV) are bringing huge sustainability and safety benefits to the program. The hazardous work offshore can now be done remotely, with support from onshore state-of-the-art remote operations centres.


“Fugro is proud to be supporting the AHO as part of the HIPP. Long-term strategic partnerships help support innovation, such as our USV for faster data acquisition, and contribute to developing an enduring national hydrographic industry.” Mark Sinclair, Director of Hydrography for Fugro in Asia-Pacific.

In support of the HIPP, Fugro has developed several remote and autonomous services, which will be hosted wholly in Australia, leveraging on years of survey experience to ensure that the products deliver a superior enhancement to the HIPP, ensuring future growth in the Australian market for new technologies to flourish.

USVs, combined with remote operations, allow for a reduced number of team members required in the field. Reduced personnel in the field reduces the survey team’s exposure to risk while also allowing the Australian Hydrographic Organisation (AHO) to monitor survey progress without the need for AHO representatives being physically onboard the vessel.

These advancements and our commitment to significant sustainable development are key to Fugro’s purpose of helping to create a safe and liveable world.


The utilisation of USVs for the AHO allows for hydrographic surveys to be conducted at a reduced cost and a reduced survey duration, while also increasing the safety of operations in shallow waters and reducing the carbon footprint by up to 50 % when compared to traditional vessel operations.

Fugro Blue Shadow has been designed for safe and efficient hydrographic and geophysical survey operations in both nearshore and offshore environments. Equipped with dual-band radar, automatic identification system (AIS) and 360° view cameras (including infrared for night operations), Fugro Blue Shadow has advance situational awareness. It incorporates both obstacle and collision avoidance within its navigation software to ensure operations are conducted to the highest safety standards.


  • A safe and efficient hydrographic and geophysical survey solution
  • Long endurance and operational flexibility linked to Fugro’s global network of remote operating centres and data management systems
  • Accelerated project schedules as a force-multiplier with a parent vessel (using one or more USVs) to increase data collection efficiency

Figure 1: Fugro USV – Blue Shadow 02 operating for the HIPP in South Australia


The LADS HD+ is the most recent version of our sophisticated LADS airborne lidar bathymetry (ALB) system, which accurately measures water depths and collects data over marine and intertidal coastal zone environments and the associated topography.

LADS HD+ has a 7 kHz laser, which greatly increases the bathymetric data density for continuous safe, high-speed and cost-effective surveys of clean, shallow coastal areas in water depths of up to 80 m and the surrounding topography to up to 100 m. The LADS HD+ can be used in combination with traditional hydrographic survey methods such as multibeam echosounders to support nautical charting and coastal zone management applications in nearshore and shallow water environments.

Fugro’s LADS HD+ system is operated concurrently with a topographic and shallow water lidar sensor, the RIEGL VQ-820-G, and Phase One high resolution digital camera.

Figure 2: Fugro bathymetric lidar data acquisition example


Transferring survey data from the field to the client in a timely manner has previously had to rely on the vessel completing the work and returning to port; this process adds significant risk to the project, as additional staff are conventionally stationed in the field or offshore. Fugro has developed Back2Base for packaging survey data and delivering it to a terrestrial data centre for processing and delivery to the client whilst survey operations continue uninterrupted.

As a result, Back2Base optimises the complement of onboard data processing staff, reducing cost and HSSE exposure. Data are organised and packaged into highly compressible formats using proprietary techniques and then queued for automatic transmission on a line-by-line basis or set time interval. Data can be transferred directly to a home-processing office, or directly to the cloud, within the Australian-based Amazon Web Service (AWS).


OARS® allows for efficient monitoring and support of survey projects. Each survey project is equipped with innovative technology and Fugro’s software suite, with direct connection to the OARS Command Centre. The entire survey suite can be operated remotely by command centre staff or can operate independently via a purpose-built touchscreen navigation interface for vessel personnel.

Communication with the OARS Command Centre is available via VSAT, which connects Fugro phones and headsets onboard the vessel to provide direct connection to the command centre, enabling verbal collaboration regarding status, project plan and amendments.

Through OARS, Fugro can track the status of the survey operations, review real-time coverage and reduce the team stationed offshore or in the field. OARS will also remove the need for AHO client representatives to track the survey progress physically in the field.

Figure 3: Fugro remote operations centre utilising OARS


Pyxis was initially developed to provide an enhanced generic point cloud, tile-editing software with machine learning to improve the quality and efficiency of data processing. This software package will provide a capability to reduce data processing times and improve accuracy significantly.

This distributed, cloud-based and scalable editing tool will enable the visualisation and editing of point cloud data. It can be operated within the cloud, on an offline network server or on a local (single) computer to enable either cloud-based or local data storage. The integration of machine learning will enable the automation of point cloud editing, with allowances for the user to manually override, which allows for the improvement of the machine learning algorithms, improving accuracy, and reducing time.

The design allows for multiple users at once by segmenting the data into separate tiles, enabling concurrent processing of individual tiles by separate users, which can then be tracked to calculate the overall data processing progress.

Pyxis was developed to support industry standard LAS/LAZ (lidar) data formats, where LAS data can be easily ‘dragged and dropped’ into the application for visualisation and editing. The point cloud’s multiple attributes can be visualised in 3D or cross profile views, and on-the-fly calculations of contours and digital elevation models support visualisation and the editing workflow. The software package could be expanded to include point cloud editing via machine learning to support the Commonwealth in its handling of large volumes of data, which will ultimately be collected by lidar and sonar from both human-crewed and uncrewed vehicles.


To learn more about this exciting Program from FrontierSI Industry partner, Fugro, contact Mick Hawkins, Business Development Manager – Hydrography, on +61 438 965 271 or