Automated Acoustic Monitoring System
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-030
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-030 TITLE: Automated Acoustic Monitoring System

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PEO IWS 5, Undersea Warfare Systems

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop an automated acoustic monitoring system to evaluate sensor performance and platform noise with the objective of improving overall combat system performance.

DESCRIPTION: The U.S. Navy needs an improved automated acoustic monitoring system on surface ship combatants to better alert operators to degraded sensor performance and to monitor platform noise. The Navy combat system employs many underwater acoustic sensors and processing [ref 1] designed to detect threat vessels. The performance of these sensors must be maintained at a high level for the combat system to perform effectively. Many of the sensors are exposed to harsh environments and operating conditions that compromise performance. In addition, excessive radiated noise emitted from the platform may limit the performance of one or more of these sensors. The fleet operators must be made aware of these degradations as soon as possible so they can take corrective action. These actions may require the operator to run diagnostic procedures, modify a sensor processing configuration, rely more heavily on other sensors, and issue a casualty report (CASREP) when the problem is severe.

The Navy system currently provides Performance Monitoring Fault Localization (PMFL) processed data for many of its acoustic sensors; however, in some cases it is not always clear to the operator what action should be taken. Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) has been successful at monitoring the status of equipment to facilitate efficient maintenance and lower the total cost of ownership. Although CBM more commonly uses sensors to facilitate the maintenance of inboard equipment, related techniques could be used for the maintenance of acoustic sensors themselves. An innovative automated system is desired that will process acoustic PMFL data and assist the operator in assessing overall sensor status and recommend corrective actions. Additional PMFL processing techniques that help detect telemetry processing issues, electronic noise and other intermittent issues are needed. Proposed algorithms should be able to distinguish between a processing induced artifact and real acoustic signal/transient in the water. The acoustic monitoring system will make recommendations to the operator to maximize overall acoustic performance while considering operational constraints and fault-tolerance of the current system software [ref 2]. For example, failed sensors can increase conventional beamformer (CBF) sidelobes. If too many sensors fail, CBF performance becomes compromised and array repairs are generally required. However, if the system uses adaptive beamforming [ref 3] that is more tolerant to failed sensors, perhaps array repairs can be deferred to a more convenient time. This example shows how PMFL action recommendations should consider the robustness of the system software that is running.

Array self-noise measurements will provide additional sensor health insight as well as help gauge expected/maximum sensor performance. Improvements are sought for the array self-noise surveys to better automate how the data is recorded, disseminated, and evaluated in support of regular maintenance activities. Approaches that account for operational and environment conditions such as ship speed, sea-state, and shipping traffic are encouraged. The sensor monitoring system is required to be fully integrated with the entire processing system. Innovative ideas are sought in the following areas: signal processing; sensor performance measurement; sensor acoustic performance prediction; and automated processing which result in improved operator awareness of sensor degradation and corrective action. Technologies developed under this topic may run standalone or will transition appropriately into existing software baselines such as the Sensor Performance Prediction Functional Segment (SPPFS) [ref 4].

PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for an automated acoustic monitoring system that meets the requirements described 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 integration into existing combat system elements such as SQQ-89, BQQ-10 and/or UQQ-2. Testing and analytical modeling will establish feasibility.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I, the company will develop a prototype of the Automated Acoustic Monitoring System for evaluation. The Prototype is primarily software but includes the additional benefit of a hardware component if applicable. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting performance goals and Navy requirements for the automated acoustic monitoring system. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters such as speeds, array configurations, sonar set up configurations and sonar at sea recordings including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. 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 Automated Acoustic Monitoring System for Navy use. The company will further refine the Automated Acoustic Monitoring System according to the Phase III development plan for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. This could potentially transition to any AxB platform which includes surveillance platforms, surface platforms and submarines. 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: Automated Acoustic Sensor Monitoring technologies developed under this topic offer many commercial opportunities where underwater acoustic sensors are utilized including commercial sonar systems (manned and autonomous), oil exploration, fishing industry, etc.

1. Urick, R.J. Principles of Underwater Sound, Third Edition, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1983.

2. Hodges, Richard P., Underwater Acoustics: Analysis, Design and Performance of Sonar, Wiley, 2010.

3. Wage, K.E., Buck, J.R., "Snapshot Performance of the Dominant Model Rejection Beamformer," IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, Volume 39, Issue 2, April 2014, pp. 212-225.

4. Ainslie, Michael A. Principles of Sonar Performance Modeling. Berlin: Springer, 2010.

KEYWORDS: Acoustic performance prediction; array self-noise; sensor performance; performance monitoring fault localization; sensor monitoring; condition based maintenance

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