TCarta wins NSF grant for satellite-derived bathymetry

August 7, 2018  - By
Image: GPS World

TCarta Marine, a global provider of marine geospatial products, has been awarded a research and development grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for bathymetry technology.

Under the grant, TCarta will enhance and automate multiple techniques for deriving seafloor depth measurements from optical satellite imagery.

The Project Trident research seeks to transform existing satellite-derived bathymetry (SDB) techniques by using machine learning and computer vision technology to enable accurate depth retrieval in variable water conditions.

If successful, these enhanced bathymetric techniques will improve operations related to oil and gas exploration and production, coastal infrastructure engineering, environmental monitoring and geointelligence activities, the company said.

“Our goal with Project Trident is to expand the geographic scope of SDB in shallow coastal areas,” said Kyle Goodrich, TCarta president. “SDB technology currently derives water depths only in calm, clear waters, which limits its applicability.”

Beta testers sought

TCarta is seeking beta testers for participation in Project Trident research. If you are interested, contact Project Trident Principal Investigator Kyle Goodrich at or complete the online Project Trident survey.

TCarta won the grant for Project Trident in partnership with jOmegak of San Carlos, California, and DigitalGlobe of Westminster, Colorado, in Phase 1 of the NSF Small Business Innovation Research program.

The one-year research project will be carried out at the TCarta facility in Denver.

In 2014, TCarta successfully commercialized a proprietary technique for digitally extracting water depth measurements down to 20 meters from high-resolution DigitalGlobe WorldView satellite imagery.

The SDB products became popular with organizations operating in shallow coastal waters because the technology is more cost-effective and timely than traditional airborne and ship-borne bathymetric methods — with no adverse effects on the environment, the company added.

“In the current SDB process, we use manual stereo photogrammetry methods to measure seafloor ground control points in digital satellite imagery, but this is extremely time consuming,” said Goodrich. “We are developing an automated photogrammetric process to extract a greater number of ground truth points from high-resolution WorldView imagery.”

Project Trident aims to integrate wave kinematics, a technique patented by jOmegak to calculate water depths in shallow waters by analyzing the patterns and speed of waves detected in satellite imagery. Wave kinematics has been applied successfully using Sentinel-2 and WorldView satellite imagery.

“Thanks to the NSF grant, we are taking a giant leap forward on TCarta satellite-derived bathymetry methodologies and aim to exponentially accelerate them with the latest in machine learning and computer vision technologies,” said Goodrich.