Identify code issues which could potentially cause problems in the field. Memory leaks were suspected, but weren’t easily confirmed. LASEN also needed code performance analysis support in preparation for a move to Windows 10.
The ALPIS gas leak detection system is comprised of an airborne sensor unit and operator’s console. The sensor is mounted to the bottom of a helicopter. The main sensor enclosure houses the laser, computer, receiver optics and detectors. In addition, the system is equipped with a high-resolution imaging camera and a GPS receiver. The combination of laser, imaging and GPS data makes it possible to precisely locate the leak. An operator, present on every flight, controls the system using a standard laptop interface and verifies the data integrity.
The whole process is entirely software-driven, as Derek Barnes, Software Engineer for LASEN, explains: “The flight captures data which we then analyze and interpret for our customers. Through a portal the customer can access both the standard inspection data and the survey video captured during the flight. Using geotagging from our GPS system, customers can review their pipeline themselves, and regard this as an important aspect in their regulation compliance and pipeline safety and integrity efforts.”
The software needs to be 100 percent reliable, and this has not always been the case, as Barnes comments: “Our systems have to run and be robust when technicians go out on a flight. In the past we’ve had issues with our software code. There were problems which we just couldn’t track down. The code was crashing and giving us inconsistent results. Errors were showing up in strange places and just didn’t make sense. It all pointed to a memory leak or invalid pointer, but pinpointing it exactly, was where we needed help.”
LASEN has started the process of moving its key software applications to Windows 10, from Windows 7 and Windows XP. Barnes has noticed a performance degradation which will need to be addressed soon.