go to top scroll for more


Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number NIA_NGGT0064
Title High Altitude Aerial Surveillance (HAAS)
Status Completed
Energy Categories Fossil Fuels: Oil Gas and Coal(Oil and Gas, Refining, transport and storage of oil and gas) 100%;
Research Types Applied Research and Development 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 75%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 25%;
Principal Investigator Project Contact
No email address given
National Grid Gas Transmission
Award Type Network Innovation Allowance
Funding Source Ofgem
Start Date 01 January 2015
End Date 01 July 2018
Duration 42 months
Total Grant Value £1,924,500
Industrial Sectors Technical Consultancy
Region London
Programme Network Innovation Allowance
Investigators Principal Investigator Project Contact , National Grid Gas Transmission (99.999%)
  Other Investigator Project Contact , Cadent Gas (0.001%)
Web Site http://www.smarternetworks.org/project/NIA_NGGT0064
Objectives To develop and prove a high altitude aerial surveillance system as a viable alternative to current helicopter patrols. Key success criteria at the end of each stage are as follows: Stage 1 Successful demonstration of the first iteration of algorithms and report Stage 2 Successful demonstration of new / updated algorithms and report Stage 3 Successful demonstration of new / updated algorithms and report Stage 4 Report detailing the comparison between the current patrols and the new system.
Abstract One of the biggest threats to the UK high pressure gas pipeline network is damage by third party interference. To mitigate against this threat, National Grid perform regular aerial patrols (amongst other measures), covering the high pressure network every two weeks. However this project looks to transition from using the relatively low-flying helicopters to using fixed wing aircraft which fly higher and faster, driving cost efficiencies and reducing risk. During helicopter patrols, a human observer looks out of the window down at the ground, and manually records potential sightings/threats on the on-board SRP1 computer. A disadvantage of flying higher and faster is that the observer will be unable to visually identify the threats with the same reliability, so there will also need to be a move to an automated solution for threat identification. A long term semi-automated system is likely to involve a camera fitted to the aircraft which records high resolution imagery for the pipeline corridors and surrounding area. These images will be downloaded to a ground station for processing. They will then be aligned with previously captured imagery to enable change detection to occur and the automatic detection of features that could be a threat to the pipeline. There will be a priority based system notification to allow a human analyst to further investigate and action potential high risk sightings. The final solution will require some element of human intervention / decision making before highlighted features of interest are passed to National Grid as a potential threat to the pipeline’s integrity. It is envisaged that this project will take several years to complete so will therefore be stage gated: Stage 1 Proof of Concept The aim of the first stage is to capture and evaluate the problems that future automation may entail and then identify appropriate solutions. The work in stage 1 will prove if a subset of threats can be automatically identified from the aerial imagery and therefore provide increased confidence that the full set of threats could potentially be identified in subsequent stages of the project. Stage 2This stage will build upon the algorithms developed using stock imagery during Stage 1. Imagery for this stage will be collected from a predefined representative area of the pipeline network, and will be repeatedly collected over a period of time. This will help create a library of 5 to 10 passes over a single area which will allow further development of the change detection and feature detection algorithms. The camera types used during these flights will be specified as part of the 1st stage and will include some above-cloud capture. Stage 3Further development of algorithms using larger collected representative data set and from alternate camera / sensor types. In this stage more extensive and representative aerial imagery will be collected, attempting to capture every type of threat. Stage 4 - Full Scale Trial This stage will require running the existing helicopter patrols alongside patrols at the higher altitude for an extended period (˜ 6 to 9 months) so that all weather conditions are encountered. Also, the threats detected by the two systems (existing and new) will be compared to establish the performance and benefits of the new system over the existing process. The commercial viability of a full implementation project and as well as expected operational costs for a final solution will be considered. This will allow an informed decision to be made as to whether a fully integrated production system can be developed that would ultimately supersede the current approach of the helicopter patrols.Note : Project Documents may be available via the ENA Smarter Networks Portal using the Website link above
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 20/08/18