The NOAA Navigation Response Teams (NRTs) perform hydrographic surveys to support nautical charting updates for 175 ports of the United States Marine Transportation System.
These include the identification of bathymetric and anthropogenic features that may pose a danger to navigation. In addition, NRTs respond to emergencies, speed the resumption of shipping after storm events, and protect life and property from underwater dangers. The spectrum of dangers occurs from natural features, such as rocks to anthropogenic objects such as piers.

Previous work conducted by the NOAA Office of Coast Survey have shown that survey-grade laser scanners can be used to remotely map features that are dangers-to-navigation. However, the justifications to purchase these systems are difficult since one system can be on the order of several hundred thousand dollars. An alternative solution is proposed through the use of economical industrial laser scanners. The capabilities of these systems can vary widely with range and angular resolution and require additional integration (e.g., translation into geographic space and timing considerations) into the network of sensors typical of vessels engaged in
hydrographic operations. This paper presents evaluation work to balance cost versus performance using an industrial laser scanner into a hydrographic system. The laser scanner was
evaluated in a laboratory setting at the Joint Hydrographic Center / Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM/JHC), University of New Hampshire (UNH) water tank facilities and aboard the R/V Coastal Surveyor (Portsmouth Harbor, NH). The results of the study include a first-order analysis of Velodyne’s VLP-32E system and its target detection performance on piers, piles, air gaps and overhanging cables.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

U.S. Hydrographic Conference (US HYDRO) 2015

Conference Date

March 16-19, 2015

Publisher Place

National Harbor, Maryland, USA


International Hydrographic Organization

Document Type

Conference Proceeding