summer of 1998 I worked on OSCAR, a project funded by Chevron
Corporation. OSCAR stood for "Offshore Supply Crane
Augmented Reality"; the goal of the OSCAR project was to
develop a computer-based "augmented reality" system
to assist crane operators on offshore oil rigs.
operators on oil rigs are forced to operate in a hostile
environment. Conditions of fog, strong winds, violent
rain, and rough seas make accidents common in loading and
unloading operations. The total cost of such accidents
to Chevron is approximately one million dollars a year.
are caused by factors such as overloading, improper rigging,
low visibility, and operator error. OSCAR was intended
to reduce the frequency of accidents, simplify crane
operation, and increase the window of operating conditions.
to an operational oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico to interview
roughnecks, crane operators, and sailors involved in the cargo
loading and unloading process. They demonstrated the
typical cargo transfer process. The visibility is
extremely limited and the boat deck is almost 90 feet below
the deck of the oil rig.
We needed a
system that was durable enough to withstand a harsh environment,
extreme weather conditions, impact, and vibrations. It needed
to adapt well to different types of boats and platforms and attach
to a variety of surfaces.
with a team of electrical and mechanical engineers to design a
system that used sonar sensors to display cargo position data
from several angles. Another sensor measured the wave
position so that crane operators could lower the cargo as the
ocean waves reached a crest (dropping the cargo to the deck at
this time minimizes the impact of the cargo against the boat
prototype can be mounted in the crane cab to give crane
operators additional information about the speed of the cargo
and its position relative to the boat deck. Sensors are
attached to the boat deck and to the cargo itself.