System-agnostic Mission Data Recording and Reconstruction for Surface Combatants
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-046
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-046 TITLE: System-agnostic Mission Data Recording and Reconstruction for Surface Combatants

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace

RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: The objective is to develop a system to record data in a "data agnostic" (non-system specific or unique) manner, eliminating the current system "data stove-piping".

DESCRIPTION: The Navy currently has specialized data recorders with the capacity to collect qualitative data on various subsystems. This approach provides little value for overall analysis of engineering improvements for system development, ignoring the need for quantitative analysis of the complete integrated system. Critical system metric measurement is not possible without stitching multiple products together. Data mining on the platform for on hull assistance in decision making or crew training is ignored and largely not possible in this collection model. Development of a common approach to data recording and reconstruction is needed to provide effective data access to the operational user and support the collection needs of the engineering development under a single product.

Development of a standardized collection methodology that is capable of supporting the unique needs of all end users in a single product is needed. The envisioned product is a single modular system that enables total Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) module reconstruction, data playback, and engineering analysis tools, for shore or sea operational personnel. The mission data recording and reconstruction system is envisioned to provide these capabilities by introducing a standardized product that will enable: operator training for mission and normal operations by facilitating the playback of system-wide recorded data, using targeted collection of native sensors; the ability to provide an immersive full-scale integrated environment using system-wide recorded data that will greatly improve readiness and training effectiveness; mission reconstruction needed to produce products for supporting operational guidance improvements using a complete integrated single system; reliability, maintainability, and system availability metrics improvements to the engineering measurement program to allow more effective analysis of the platform, by providing reporting of logistics data for extended deployments, tracking performance and failure data in an automated complete system approach.

Current systems do not provide a cohesive product to serve the needs of end users. Quantitative data is needed for the measurement of engineering improvements, intelligence and Concept of Operation (CONOPs) evaluations (ref 1). Limitations of the current model do not provide the ability to "see the ship" as it was operated, not designed. Many good engineering tools are integrated into the systems and are not utilized correctly during operations, creating significant churn in evaluating performance of the tool. Qualitative data collection is needed for improvements of general operational guidance, total system employment, and for addressing training successes or potential deficiency analysis. Navy decision makers are unable to demand improvements in system performance, change operational guidance, modify training products or provide evaluation of improvements and readiness. Collision reconstruction and other significant event lessons learned are difficult to assemble and distribute as a training product for improvements in readiness.

Current Naval recording systems stovepipe information, supporting a singular program purpose, and produce a myriad of data products, making the collection and collaboration of data very challenging. Legacy Naval recording systems have a large but often hidden program cost within the engineering process, many programs spend money to develop, field, collect, support and develop tool sets for data analysis (ref 2). The legacy systems also rely on the operator to collect data from multiple sources for critical data sets resulting in potential data loss and incomplete analysis of the situation.

Commercial companies take a different approach to data collection, focusing on collaboration from heterogeneous networks for data collection. This allows formatting data for maximum flexibility across platform operating systems to reduce costs and achieve the greatest collaboration of collected products. Careful selection of software and hardware for the effort is a prime consideration for cost control. When possible, the selection of a replacement technology is designed to be backward compatible, reducing rework of existing archive products. Open format product development provides standards that all industry partners embrace. This allows for data compatibility and reduced development costs for the end-user. Tape technology such as Linear-Tape-Open (LTO) is an example of the commercial industry standard driven by the need for a standard collection process.

The Navyís shift to a data agnostic recording approach, will net a product that maximizes the ability to consistently analyze data on or off hull, and provide potential training products on data recorded from a variety of different systems under a single funded source. This commonality will not just be a new recorder but a complete recording paradigm shift.

Use of scalable hardware and software components is envisioned to collect data under this new approach to control costs and offer the maximum program flexibility. The reduction of hardware required for legacy systems is envisioned as having a common approach that allows all programs to benefit from common tools and collected data (ref 3). The new design will allow the addition of hardware assets, and software agents using a modular approach as mission directives change, vice standing up full hardware recording programs for each shift in the programís lifecycle.

Obstacles to overcome in the development effort include design stage impacts, identifying the data critical to all system stakeholders, analysis of the interfaces associated with current systems, supporting network architecture analysis, selection of technology solutions that will allow data portability at the lowest cost, and establishment of a standardized collection schema that meets but allows growth with evolving system architecture changes.

PHASE I: The Company will develop a concept for a data recorder and reconstruction system that meets the requirements stated above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concept can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established by analytical modeling. The Contractor will also will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that addresses technical risk reduction.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the company will develop a prototype data recorder and reconstruction system for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting both technical and programmatic objectives of the Navy. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation, using simulated mission system data. Evaluation will also employ modeling and analytical evaluations of the prototypeís design, with an emphasis on open interfaces for injecting data, and the ability to transform reconstructed data to different, but compatible data formats. Another key factor in this evaluation will be determining performance impacts of the reconstruction system when applying data transformations. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: The Company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The company will develop a data recorder and reconstruction system for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The system has applications for other DoD environments, employing multiple systems with varying data formats. Commercial applications include the ability to instrument factory assembly units to record data captured during machining or other automated assembly processes. The ability to reconstruct and analyze this data can lead to optimized manufacturing or assembly systems and processes.

1. "Addressing the challenge of data for all: but securely" Defense Systems, February 2013. <>

2. "The 2002 User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation", Division of Research, Evaluation and Communication National Science Foundation; January 2013. <>

3. "High-performance computing benefits signal-and data processing in aerospace and defense applications", July, 2011. <>

KEYWORDS: Data Agnostic Recording; Heterogeneous Networks; Data Stove-Piping; Qualitative data; Quantitative data; Recording Technology; Mission Reconstruction

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