#Drones#Geomodelling#sustainability

EMerald Geomodelling's geotechnical studies take off

Norwegian R&D SME secures Eurostars funding for a £1.44m development project that will cut geotechnical investigation costs by 30 percent

|Oct 5|magazine7 min read

EMerald Geomodelling, in partnership with SkyTEM, SDU and NGI, has secured Eurostars funding for a £1.44 million development project, which will help finance the development of a drone-based system and piloting with strategic partners over the next 30 months.

A technology company that specialises in revealing unknown ground conditions to help large-scale infrastructure projects reduce the need for intrusive ground investigations, Emerald Geomodelling aims to provide the missing link between complex geophysical and sparse geotechnical data. 

Utilising airborne geoscanning and machine learning, the company provides its clients full 3D coverage with quantified scanning for their project, a statement explains. The funding comes from the Eurostars programme, which is a joint venture between EUREKA and the European Commission to support innovative projects led by research and development performing small and medium-sized enterprises (R&D performing SMEs), supported by the European Union through Horizon 2020. EMerald Geomodelling ranked as 15th out of 384 applications.

“Globally, 90 percent of infrastructure projects encounter cost overruns of 20-50 percent. This is costing society unacceptable amounts of time and money. A lack of thorough geological understanding is frequently identified as a key factor, but EMerald and SkyTem are now set to address this challenge,” the company says.

“Today our services are based on airborne geoscanning from helicopters. In the near future, our aim is to develop the solution further to use drones. Integrating a high-resolution ground investigation workflow consisting of a geoscanning system carried by a UAV, machine- learning-based data integration and a drastically reduced invasive sampling program, will increase sustainability for the construction sector,” it adds.

On average, the company can reduce the total geotechnical investigation costs on a project by 30 percent. “Leveraging the drone-based technology will make us able to fly closer to the ground which will increase both the accuracy of our measurements and increase resolution in the first meters of the subsurface,” it adds.

At present, the helicopter-based method of geoscanning has a high entry cost and comparatively low resolution, which limits the ROI for small infrastructure projects that depend on high accuracy and have limited ground investigation budgets.

Therefore, the introduction of UAV-based workflow will help bridge this gap, with the solution being lower cost, faster and better in terms of accuracy and resolution.

“Faster, better and cheaper is usually the typical wish that can’t be fulfilled, but with the change from a half-a-ton helicopter sensor to some dozen kilos on a drone we can make this dream reality”, says Andi Pfaffhuber, CEO of EMerald Geomodelling. 

“Our vision is to extend our resource saving workflow from large linear infrastructure projects to all infrastructure developments that today suffer under unsustainable traditional workflows” he continues. 

“When the product is fully developed, we aim to scale it to become a new standard for any geotechnical investigating. This scaling will hopefully enable us to reduce the cost of our services by one order of magnitude making it accessible for almost any project,” he adds, explaining that this development will increases the sustainability of infrastructure investments, both in terms of costs and carbon emissions, in addition to make the solution easier to use in smaller projects.

EMerald Geomodelling statement
Construction Global magazine