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OSRR-594-Development of a Portable Multispectral Aerial Sensor for Real-time Oil Spill Thickness Mapping in Coastal and Offshore Waters

Project Number
Project Initiation Date
Performing Activity
Ocean Imaging Corporation
Principal Investigator
Dr. Jan Svejkovsky and Mr. Judd Muskat
Contracting Agency

This research project will develop a portable, easy-to-operate, aerial sensor to detect and accurately map the thickness and distribution of an oil slick in coastal and offshore waters in real-time. Building on previous research the technical plan, consisting of five phases will lead to the deployment of an operational system estimated to be completed with 18 months. The five phases are: Addition and testing of infra-red camera to the detection system.
Refinement and implementation of the neural network and fuzzy ratio-based oil discrimination software.
Addition of Inertial Measurement Unit and testing/validation of real-time auto geo-referencing capabilities.
Ohmsett infra-red and full-system validation experiments.
Integration of full-system and implementation of near-real-time analysis discrimination capabilities.

This project will include five separate over-flights over the Santa Barbara Channel oil seeps and the Ohmsett facility for sensor and algorithm verification and ground-truthing. This project is co funded with the California Department of Fish and Game, Oil Spill Prevention and Response.

Latest progress update

The infra-red camera (IR) and GIS compatible software were received in late September 2007. The camera is being integrated into the detection system and initial test flights of the system will be conducted over the Santa Barbara Channel oil seeps in late October 2007. The Oil Thickness Algorithm Refinement work is being undertaken simultaneously with the IR camera integration. Laboratory experiments and aerial flights were conducted. Two significant improvements to the system were achieved. First, a new wavelength (577 nm) was chosen to provide the greatest thickness distinction range of ratios. Second. When the 577nm band is used in conjunction with the 551nm band it provides additional information to the algorithm to adjust the thickness model for different background water reflectance characteristics. The addition of the IR camera will extend the available thickness measurement range.

The thickness sensor system was successfully flight tested in day/night operations over the Ohmsett facility from June 16-20, 2008. Plans are being developed to conduct final proof of principal over flights of the Santa Barbara oil seeps in November 2008 to verify total system integration.

The final proof of principal flights were successfully conducted on November 13, 2008 during overflights of the natural oil seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel, CA. The MMS has accepted the final project report.