Real-Time Mapping from Over-Water Imagery
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-064
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick -
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Real-Time Mapping from Over-Water Imagery




ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA263 Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Air 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 3.5 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: Design and develop a system that enables real-time broad area mapping using ocean surface imagery, captured by aircraft, that is immediately updated as new data is ingested, resulting in a large field, geo-referenced image that can be projected onto charts, maps, and/or a common operational picture, and has the potential to be utilized in GPS-denied environments.


DESCRIPTION: Many aircraft, including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), that routinely fly over the ocean are equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors (EO/IR), which are leveraged for many mission profiles. EO/IR sensors have proven very effective at providing users imagery of objects or areas of interest, and can be individually geo-referenced from associated meta data. Images captured by these sensors typically provide a fairly narrow picture of the overall surface of the ocean in the vicinity of the aircraft. Imagery of the water surface is frequently subject to severe glare, which limits its usefulness. Furthermore, individual images do not provide a sense of scale or relative

locations of objects of interest to users over time. A user may see a few images at a time, with no context as to its surroundings.


Satellite imagery can provide broad area maps over the ocean, but that imagery is not responsive enough and may be outdated for many time-critical missions. The Navy desires to use imagery captured by EO/IR sensors on aircraft to generate a broad area ortho-mosaic map of the water surface in order to aid in real-time situational awareness. The desired result is the generation of “satellite-like” maps of the ocean surface from the least time-late possible imagery data, and continual building and updating that map as sensors provide new data.


No such system currently exists. Basic tiling of imagery generally produces poor results that render the larger map virtually worthless. Software tools exist that can generate large ortho-mosaics, but they rely on fixed feature points, and therefore only work over land - not over water. Furthermore, these tools require intensive post-processing, so that a data set is many hours old by the time it is processed and available in a useful format.


The desired system should produce ortho-mosaic maps from EO/IR imagery of the water surface generated at 1-30 Hz from altitudes of 10-2000 meters, processed in real time, capable of covering hundreds of square nautical miles, while minimizing glare and other artifacts that would make the results difficult to use. The result would be a wide- view snapshot of the water’s surface that can be continually updated and output as keyhole markup language (kml) files, shapefiles, or any other geo-spatial data format. The real-time processing must be suitable to run on a small UAS deployed from a vessel at sea with limited or no connection to high-performance cloud computing.


PHASE I: Design and develop a concept for a technology that enables real-time, geo-referenced, ortho-mosaics of the water surface from EO/IR imagery of the ocean surface captured from small UAS. Provide a detailed description of the proposed solution along with supporting mathematical justification of the proposed approach. Identify sensor and processing requirements, as well as any other components necessary for the system. Identify limitations, such as lighting conditions, surface turbidity, sea state, or any other factor that may affect the performance of the system.

Build a prototype system and demonstrate it operating with representative data. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.


PHASE II: Test and validate the ortho-mosaic system onboard an UAS in a relevant environment, preferably over the ocean operating from a vessel offshore. The Navy may assist with a UAS/boat should the need arise.

Demonstrate real-time ortho-mosaic generation using both optical and IR imagery with a constantly expanding area of operation. Verify cross functionality with other geo-spatial data systems. Test the system in a wide range of conditions, starting in a benign environment. Demonstrate the portability of the system to other unmanned (such as, but not limited to, Scan Eagle, Fire Scout, Triton and Puma) or manned aircraft systems equipped with EO/IR sensors operating over water. Produce and deliver a final technical data package and a functional prototype system.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Complete final testing and perform necessary integration and transition for use in anti-submarine and countermine warfare, counter surveillance, and monitoring operations with appropriate current platforms and agencies, and future combat systems under development.


Commercially this product could be used to enable remote environmental monitoring of geophysical survey, facilities, and vital infrastructure assets. Industries such as geology, archaeology, mineral and energy exploration and oceanography would benefit from successful technology development.



1.   Bouin, M.-N., Ballu, V., & Calmant, S. “A Kinematic GPS Methodology for Sea Surface Mapping, Vanuatu.” Journal of Geodesy, Volume 83, Issue 12, December 2009, pp. 1203-1217. Vanuatu


2.   Deng, Z., Ji, M., & Zhang, Z. “Mapping Bathymetry from Multi-Source Remote Sensing Images: A Case Study in the Beilun Estuary, Guangxi, China.” The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Vol. XXXVII, Part B8, Beijing, 2008.


3.   Isern-Fontanet, J., Ballabrera-Poy, J., Turiel, A., & Garcia-Ladona, E. “Remote Sensing of Ocean Surface Currents: A Review of What is Being Observed and What is Being Assimilated.” Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, 24, 2017, pp. 613-643.


4.   Panayotov, K. “Mapping the Seafloor with Remote Sensing and Satellite Imagery. An Analysis of the Techniques and Benefits of These Methods.” Hydro International, 2018. https://www.hydro-


5.   Prasad, D., Prasath, C., Rajan, D., Rachmawati, L., Rajabally, E., & Quek, C. “Maritime Situational Awareness Using Adaptive Multi-Sensor Management Under Hazy Conditions.” Singapore: School of Computer Science and Engineering, Nayang Technological University, Singapore.


KEYWORDS: EO/IR Imagery; Geolocation; GPS Denied; UAS; Surface Wave Identification; Geo-registration



Anthony Brescia





Steve Wolbach





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