The innovation concept

Largely due to uncertainty in ground conditions, infrastructure projects typically exceed their budgets by 20 to 50 percent. Geotechnical boreholes and in-situ investigations are the current state-of-the-art, but they are exceedingly costly. For close to 10 years, NGI has done research on adapting an airborne geophysical method for geotechnical site investigations.

Such helicopter geo-scanning surveys integrate complicated geophysical models with sparse geotechnical drillings to produce an integrated ground model with statistical uncertainty. Machine learning algorithms are key to the success of this technology because they integrate enormous amounts and varying types of data.

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New era for site investigations

The FORNY2020 project Airborne geo-intelligence: Revolutionizing geotechnical site investigations for large infrastructure projects aims at the commercialization of airborne ground investigations, building on NGI's prior successful projects both in Norway and internationally. The machine learning-based integration of geophysical models with selected ground observations is the motor to scale this technology for more and bigger projects.

NGI has been a pioneer in this application and market adoption is in part limited by the finite resource pool of specialists that are needed to interpret the acquired data. The spin-off will make it possible, easy and natural for practicing engineers to use such surveys without the need of speciality background knowledge.

Since its establishment in 1953 it has been NGI's mission to engage in research and development that creates results in the form of new expertise, new methods and new technology relevant to the market and put into direct use when mature. Since the establishment of Electromagnetic Geosurvices ASA in 2002 (together with Equinor) the current NGI strategy focuses strongly on innovation and commercialization.