Large Vessels are commonly used for the transportation of heavy materials such as coal or iron ore. To get the heavy load onto the ship itself, so-called ship loaders are used. Due to the size of these machines, getting an overview of the whole arm is difficult. To avoid collisions, either human supervision or automated systems are required.
In the past, MRA, an Australian engineering company, experimented profoundly with different sensors ranging from cameras to low-resolution 3D-Lidar sensors and radar. In the end, the company was not satisfied with any of these approaches because the accuracy and reliability were limited. Recently, they switched to the OS1 sensor from Ouster and immediately experienced the advantages. To put it in their own words:
Historically in lidar versus radar debates, lidar provides better accuracy while radar is thought to have improved environmental noise performance. Through testing, we have found Ouster lidar to have inherently excellent performance across a wide-spectrum of environments when augmented with our application specific proprietary filtering algorithms. This has helped us deliver a superior solution for accuracy and environmental robustness
To accomplish secure loading, a 3D map of the loader and vessel is created using the data from the OS1 point cloud. Whenever the vessel or the ship loader is moving, the map is updated in real-time. Because of the durability of Ouster Lidar sensors, severe weather conditions are not an issue.
Overall, MRA documented improvements in staff safety, site efficiency, maintenance costs, and many more. To this day, there has not been a single reported collision in 100 months of active operation.
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