Cognitive Maritime Imaging
Navy SBIR 2018.1 - Topic N181-066
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: January 8, 2018 - Closes: February 7, 2018 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Cognitive Maritime Imaging


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS 435, Submarine Electromagnetic 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 Announcement. 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 a cognitive algorithm that automatically analyzes 360-degree periscope imaging and recommends optimal camera settings to the operator.

DESCRIPTION: The Integrated Submarine Imaging System (ISIS) (AN/BVY-1) is the submarine system’s Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) periscope sensor suite with the associated inboard hardware and software.  The Advanced Processor Build (APB) program is the current software modernization process for submarine combat systems.  This system and program provide for improvements to periscope photonic systems used on U.S. Navy submarines. Current periscope photonic systems are manually adjusted to achieve optimal performance when camera settings are properly set and image enhancement algorithms are tuned to real-time environmental conditions.  However, current automatic camera settings for photonic cameras do not properly account for all conditions experienced by submarine periscopes.  Specifically, submarine masts must function in all weather conditions.  Many maritime conditions such as overcast environments are rarely sought by commercial photographers and are not included in commercially available cameras.  Automated image quality recognition with recommended settings for improvement that covers all maritime conditions is needed. These recommendations would include changing gain, exposure, gamma, and color balance; insert polarizers and neutral density filters; and apply histogram equalizations and local contrast enhancement.  This would relieve periscope operators of the need to continuously monitor image quality and make appropriate imaging adjustments.  Effective image enhancement automation would free operators to examine imagery for contacts of interest and improve system performance to detect, classify, and identify contacts.

An innovative approach will provide cognitive recommended changes to the operator for optimizing the maritime imaging settings in the visible and infrared bands.  Cognitive maritime imaging is envisioned to be similar to cognitive radar.  Cognitive radar builds knowledge of the environment and makes recommendations to adjust the sensor parameters to maximize probability of detection while reducing false alarms.  Applying this same type of cognitive framework to imaging would require continuous image quality assessment of attributes for contrast, resolution, noise, color, saturation, defocus, and blur to increase probability of detection while reducing false alarms. This process would make initial periscope camera setting recommendations and continually reassess these settings as conditions evolve.  While this process provides for optimized settings, imaging stability will be maintained.

The Phase II effort will likely require secure access, and NAVSEA will process the DD254 to support the contractor for personnel and facility certification for secure access.  The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DSS and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Define and develop a concept for a Cognitive Maritime Imaging capability, and demonstrate the feasibility of that concept.  The concepts for the capability must meet the requirements discussed in the description.  Demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting Navy needs and establish that the concept can be integrated into Navy periscope imaging systems.  Establish feasibility through analytical modeling.  The Phase I Option, if awarded, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype in Phase II. Develop a Phase II plan.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), develop and deliver a software prototype of the Cognitive Maritime Imaging capability for evaluation.  Demonstrate the prototype’s capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the description through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods.  The demonstrations will take place at a Government- or company-provided facility. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Navy production and potential commercial use.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Government in transitioning the technology for Navy use.  The Cognitive Maritime Imaging capability implementation will show a fully functional prototype that can be used in an operationally relevant environment in the Integrated Submarine Imaging System (ISIS) system (AN/BVY-1) through the Advanced Processor Build (APB) program.

A Cognitive Maritime Imaging capability should easily be applicable to both commercial and military imaging systems.  Commercial systems for navigation, port security, surveillance, and surface military vessels can use this technology to improve image quality.


1. Vollmerhausen, Richard H. and Jacobs, Eddie.  “The Targeting Task Performance (TTP) Metric - A New Model for Predicting Target Acquisition Performance.” Modeling and Simulation Division Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, Technical Report AMSEL-NV-TR-230, April 20, 2004.

2. Haykin, Simon. “Cognitive Radar – A way of the future.” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, January 2006.

KEYWORDS: Periscope Imaging; Maritime Imaging; Cognitive Maritime Imaging; Image Quality Assessment at Sea; Submarine Masts; Periscope Systems


These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2018.1 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2018.1 BAA SBIR pre-release on November 29, 2017, which opens to receive proposals on January 8, 2018, and closes February 7, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET.

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