Advanced obstacle detection sensors and real-time communication for Horizontal Directional Drilling


ORFEUS is an international consortium that is developing a radar system that can be mounted within the bore heads of HDD machines. It can be used when drilling up to several hundred metres to install utility pipes, etc. The radar is designed to help the drill operator avoid drilling through, or too close to, existing pipes, cables, sewers, etc (either metallic or non-metallic). The technology has the ability to detect obstacles at up to a 50 centimetre radius around the bore head, depending on the soil conditions. The radar imaging data is transmitted directly back to the drill operator. These images, after suitable processing, are able to alert the operator about utilities, or other objects, that are close enough to the drill path to be of concern, and may require corrective action. Such a capability should enable the use of HDD in situations that are currently regarded as entailing an unacceptable degree of risk, and thus increase business opportunities.

After successful trials, the system is now in the final stages of development.
We are interested in the market for such a radar system, particularly its primary use to avoid existing infrastructure (pipes, cables, sewers, etc.). We also wish to identify any additional or alternative types of data (for example, those related to performance or navigation issues), or use, that drill operators think would be valuable for a device such as this to communicate to the surface operator.

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