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Integrating a fishing grade MBES / Side Scan on an AUV for cheap imaging & SLAM

Hello - I was wondering if there was anyone out there who’s taken something like the Lawrance StructureScan 3D system (or Garmin/Hummingbird equivalent) and integrated it directly with an AUV system.


For $700 (reconditioned) - I could see a system like this being a super useful tool for navigation, imaging, bathymetry etc.

Problems I see:

  1. the transducers not being pressure rated.
  2. proprietary data output, and no SDKs / APIs for integration and easy manipulation of the system.
  3. data quality could be all over the place


However - taking a look at the processed output on the screen they provide - it looks like you’re getting a super interesting set of information.

Has anyone tried to make this work? Does anyone else know anyone that’s cracked the code here? Looking forward to seeing what people out there have done or think could work!

This is the only thread I’ve found other people talking about some of the solutions.

Garmin seems to be out because data can’t be interpreted.

Lowrance & Hummingbird seem to work with some 3rd party post processing & stiching, visualization software:

  1. http://www.sonartrx.com/web/
  2. https://reefmaster.com.au/index.php/products/reefmaster

@kklemens you seem to be guy on top of that at Blue Robotics - any other inputs to this that I’m missing that you’re aware of?

The problem with using the recreational side scans on AUVs is that the whole processor for the system is in the chartplotter and this needs to have easy access to the sonar controls on the display.

So not only do you have to figure out a way to mount the large chartplotter (I consider even the smallest chartplotters to be large) inside a watertight enclosure, but you also need a way to have easy access.

The recreational side scans work well for surface vehicles where they don’t need to be in sealed compartments.

DeepVision make a side scan unit for the BlueROV2 and that works off Windows 10, so you could theoretically install it on a single board computer inside the AUV and then remote desktop in to start the recording for the side scan. Its going to be rough until things get integrated.

I don’t know how the AUV manufacturers start their scans either because they all use some sort of 3rd party side scan on their vehicles.

@kklemens its such a bummer they group the smarts and display in a single unit. (completely agree on the sizing of the Chartplotter btw). Agree on all fronts, just trying to see if anyone’s cracked this one to unlock some cheaper sensors options.

There might be a DIY solution.
Before upgrading plotter and PC systems I had sidescan via a separate Lowrancebox.
A module called Sonarhub, that contained processing and sent data on UDP network to PC and plotter.
The box was much bigger than components inside, possible to cut and put in an ROV.

Or electronics and transducer in package:

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SV Seeker

Hey Anthony,

As a matter of fact, we have done it on an ASV using the Lowrance “Active Imaging 3-in-1” transducer with our own electronics board. Hope to have it productized to launch by end of Q1 2020. In the meantime, here is a scan we did on an old wooden sunken barge in Lake Minnetonka:

Not sure if the Lowrance unit can take much depth, but we also have 1500m rated transducers that will be more expensive. Haven’t set pricing on the sidescan electronics yet, but should be under $500 and will be compatible with the depth rated or Lowrance transducer.

We are Cerulean Sonar: Advanced technology, Affordable prices. Sorry there is no real content on the web site yet, but we will officially launch our first 2 products at the Blue Robotics open house on Oct 25th. See you there!

Larry Lukis
Cerulean Sonar


Looking good, @ljlukis! We’re looking forward to these devices here.

@projectseabed - There’s a lot of cool and affordable technology in the consumer sonar world but none of it is accessible. I’ve talked to quite a few people who were interested in access raw data from a variety of off-the-shelf units but nobody’s had any luck. I think the interest is growing in the low-cost science/robotics area so I’m sure there will be affordable and accessible solutions in the future.

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