Mapping subsurface infrastructure: from 3 days to 5 minutes

For decades, ground radar has shown great promise when mapping subsurface infrastructure to prevent damage to cables and pipes during excavation. Interpreting these radar images, however, is such a time consuming exercise that MapXact (a VolkerWessels subsidiary) almost stopped using ground radar altogether. This all changed once they discovered the power of artificial intelligence and how it could be used to augment their workflow.

One of the case studies in our new ebook "3 successful business cases in infrastructure management" illustrates how artificial intelligence can decrease the subsurface mapping process from 3 days to 5 minutes!

The challenge

Time is a critical element in exploration and development projects. Operators need the information derived from data to allow decisions to be made in a timely manner. Often the extent and quality of the available information is constrained due to time pressures on the team conducting the geological analysis, which can lead to decisions being taken with imperfect information. At best this is frustrating, but in the worst case it can lead to a catastrophic result, either from a safety or economic perspective.

The approach

The first time scanned ground radar images are added to the BrainMatter platform they must be validated and labelled. BrainMatter provides two options: do I see this, or that? The expert has to make a choice and teach the computer step-by-step as to what they see and how the image should be interpreted.

The platform will then base its future conclusions on this interpretation. The expert will then be presented with a much smaller number of images next time. 

“The speed at which experts can review the data in BrainMatter is incredible” according to Gerben Roseboom, Managing Director, MapXact.

“At MapXact they now have a map back at the office within five minutes of the completion of the field research. This map is equally reliable and accurate as the map that used to take three days to complete depending on the type of soil, the amount of cables and the situation of the surface. MapXact employees can now be deployed to more productive tasks including further optimization of the system.”

The solution

The end product is a BrainMatter-based solution that automatically detects various underground assets from ground radar scan images. This consolidates all data acquired throughout MapXact’s historical scans into one consistent and intuitive view for the experts to review.

Learn more about our use cases in our free ebook.


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