ORFEUS is a Framework 7 EC-supported project aimed at progressing the prototype Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) bore-head radar technology that was developed under a preceding project, carried out under Framework 6, entitled “Optimised Radar to Find Every Utility in the Street”, to a commercial stage.

HDD is a trenchless method of installing pipes and cables of various sizes that minimises disturbances to traffic and to people living nearby. The technique is very powerful but requires an accurate knowledge of the position of obstructions and utilities such as power cables, telecommunication lines, steel and plastic gas pipes, potable water and sewer lines. Striking, and damaging, one of these assets can be extremely dangerous and can cause significant economic losses when public services are interrupted. Consequently, the safe use of the technique demands an accurate knowledge of utility assets and other obstructions in the drill path.

The preceding project “Optimised Radar to Find Every Utility in the Street” was partly financed through the 6th FP and resulted in a prototype innovative Ground Probing Radar (GPR). Operating within the drilling head of HDD systems, the equipment provides the real-time obstacle detection needed to increase the safety margins of HDD operations to allow its use in the widest possible range of conditions.

However, unresolved technical issues were identified through the 6th FP project that required further work. Important issues are associated with (a) the optimum antenna configuration and electrical/mechanical interface to the disposable drill head, (b) the identification and validation of the most effective bore-head GPR data processing algorithms, (c) the validation of performance and ruggedisation of the data communication link and (d) the validation of performance and ruggedisation of the connector systems.

ORFEUS commenced in October 2012 and will end in March 2015. It is being undertaken by a consortium of 11 organisations from the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Slovenia, Greece and Ireland. The consortium includes HDD engineering and manufacturer SMEs, one radar manufacturer, one local authority, one national utility company, as well as energy and management consultants.