Sediment Volume Search Sonar Development

Mr. Daniel Brown | Pennsylvania State University



The objective of this project is to improve buried unexploded ordnance (UXO) detection and classification performance over that available with existing systems. This will be accomplished through the design, build, and demonstration of a sonar system, deployed from a shallow‐draft surface vessel. This sonar system will be capable of producing a novel form of three‐dimensional synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) imagery and target strength estimates of surficial and buried UXO across a range of environments, and is particularly suited for use in water depths less than three meters. In addition to the fabrication of the sonar system, this project will develop the necessary beamforming software for the production of three‐dimensional SAS volumetric imagery, visualization software for the analysis of this unique imagery, and target strength estimates for detected objects. Sufficient detection and classification performance will be demonstrated to allow the user to find surficial and buried objects of interest in water less than 5 meters deep. Finally, an important objective of this project is that hardware developed be capable of transition to a contract manufacturer at an ultimately low cost.

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Technical Approach

This project will consist of an 8-month modeling and simulation phase followed by two sequential design/build/demonstrate phases of 18 months and 30 months respectively. The modeling and simulation phase will address the complexity of sonar operations in the targeted environment (<5 meters water depth). At the conclusion of this modeling effort, the team will prepare a report on estimates of the expected performance of the Sediment Volume Search Sonar (SVSS). This report provides SERDP with its first “Go/No‐Go” decision point. The next phase will focus on demonstrating the advantages of the system design while using existing sonar hardware and software to minimize development costs. The conclusion of this demonstration phase will provide a second “Go/No‐Go” decision point based on the performance of the SVSS in a relevant environment. The final phase will focus on improving the system performance over that demonstrated previously. Additionally, attention will be paid to identifying low‐cost commercial off the shelf (COTS) alternatives for system level components to improve the cost effectiveness of future systems. At the conclusion of this phase, a complete SVSS system (sonar hardware, sonar software, and sonar platform) will have been designed, built, integrated, and demonstrated.

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This project addresses needs for the development of detailed survey sensors for acoustic detection and localization of surficial and buried UXO. As emphasized during the SERDP Workshop on Acoustic Detection and Classification of UXO in the Underwater Environment, the UXO detection and localization problem is particularly important to solve in water less than 5 meters deep. The system to be developed addresses the current gap in technology for detailed survey in these depths. The system’s output will provide operators with three-dimensional volumetric SAS imagery of the sea bed and upper sediment volume, as well as the target strength or acoustic color of targets of interest. These data products will be suitable for analysis both in situ by the operator with computer aided detection and classification, and off‐line by automated target recognition systems. Additionally, the design effort will identify low‐cost COTS alternatives for major components to improve future cost effectiveness. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2016)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Mr. Daniel Brown

The Pennsylvania State University

Phone: 814-865-1193

Program Manager

Munitions Response