Generalized Fragment Mass Estimation Library from 3D Stereoscopic Data

Navy SBIR 24.1 - Topic N241-010
NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command
Pre-release 11/29/23   Opens to accept proposals 1/03/24   Now Closes 2/21/24 12:00pm ET    [ View Q&A ]

N241-010 TITLE: Generalized Fragment Mass Estimation Library from 3D Stereoscopic Data

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Hypersonics; Sustainment; Trusted AI and Autonomy

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 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 general purpose fragment mass estimation library that complements high-speed 3D stereoscopic data for use in high-fidelity multiphysics hydrocodes.

DESCRIPTION: High Speed Video (HSV) systems (hardware and software) have evolved significantly over the past 10 years. One relatively new area of study and application involves Three Dimensional (3D) stereoscopic systems based on HSV hardware, which are then utilized to identify fragments in-flight emanating from a warhead. These 3D stereoscopic systems have been evaluated by the DoD for use in fragment characterization tests, usually referred to as "arena tests" with varying degrees of success depending on the metric of interest. Fragment position, speed, and vector information offers the greatest confidence; however, fragment mass remains an elusive parameter in such assessments. This parameter is a key measure in the U.S. Navy’s and DoD’s vision of leveraging advanced diagnostics, and the data generated from these, in the calibration of High Fidelity Multiphysics hydrocodes currently in use.

Given these challenges, there is a need for innovative engineering solutions that allows the U.S. Navy and the DoD to bridge the last data gap related to 3D stereoscopic HSV systems by creating a general purpose fragment mass estimation library for use in high-fidelity codes.

Solutions (e.g., General Purpose Mass Estimation Library) must be able to leverage the 3D stereoscopic raw data independent of intrinsic hardware used. Additionally, the solution must generate verifiable and validated fragment mass data from said 3D stereoscopic raw data. The solution must work for all possible types, namely natural (e.g., random shapes), pre-scored and preformed fragments, as well as multiple materials such as—but not limited to—steel, aluminum, titanium, or tungsten compositions. The solution must be able to create accurate mass assessment for fragments in the range of 10 to 2500 grains, traveling at speeds ranging from 500–9000 ft/s (152.4–2743.2 m/s). Mass estimate generated from the solution must be calibrated to have uncertainties less than +/- 4% for fragments at 2500 grains, and less than +/- 20% for fragments at 10 grain levels (e.g., Mass Estimate threshold) from verifiable and validated data source(s). Based on this, the mass tolerance threshold would follow a linear relationship (e.g., Mass Tolerance Threshold [fragment mass, in grains] = 0.0394 * fragment mass + 1.604, Mass Tolerance Threshold has units of grains as well).

Verifiable and validated data sources for calibrating the proposed solution may be, but are not limited to, experimental or other empirical datasets, including any other representative Modeling and Simulation (M&S) techniques. Calibration must be performed at laboratory scale to include full mass scale. The solution may leverage precomputed data/regressions and/or any Machine Learning (ML) techniques. If ML techniques are utilized, open source tools/methods must be leveraged to the greatest extent possible. As part of the solution, a verification and validation package on the general purpose mass estimation library must be created along with any other required SBIR reporting, allowing full transparency to Subject Matter Experts (SME) in the U.S. Navy and DoD.

The solution must be able to generate mass estimates within seconds on a per fragment basis and within minutes for an entire populated 3D stereoscopic raw data set potentially consisting of thousands of fragments. The solution must have an appropriate and well-documented interface or Application Programming Interface (API) if relevant, so that other software tools may be able to leverage it effectively. The solution must be compatible with use inside modern Operating Systems (OS) such as Microsoft Windows and Linux. The solution must provide clear text data output consisting of estimated mass, as well as any ancillary graphical depiction of the post-processing results including statistical uncertainties in output values.

PHASE I: Identify and evaluate potential technologies/methodologies applicable for the solution. The feasibility study may include limited/initial lab scale test or M&S efforts that help provide grounding to a proposal/study. A preliminary design of the general purpose library and methodology will be performed that includes identification of current/future resources in the form of existing software packages and/or empirical or M&S datasets. Create (1) a preliminary engineering development plan that includes an evaluation of potential numerical/ML methodologies, calibration plans, and testing program needed and (2) a preliminary post-processing and analysis plan for the general purpose library that includes the proposed analysis/computational logic flow needed in order to meet the mass estimate uncertainties across the range of parameters indicated. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop a working prototype. Demonstrate the prototype, including applicable testing of any post-processing features, and with laboratory scenarios/data including full scale scenarios, with comparison of the output data and associated uncertainties. Proposed solution must demonstrate capability for expansion in light of new test or M&S data enhancing the verification and validation package. Integrate the solution into a larger software package as directed by the Government or provide technical support in the event that the Government integrates it. Deliver source code, binaries, libraries, trained ML, verification and validation package, design specifications, configuration and user’s manual for Government evaluation. Provide technical support for Government use of prototype libraries within a larger Community of Interest of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Transition the updated solution to the U.S. Navy. Receive feedback from users and perform/release updates addressing feature requests and bug fixes. Enhance the text and visual capabilities per user feedback along with the verification and validation package expanding into further fragment ranges. Provide continuing technical support for Government use of libraries within a larger Community of Interest of SMEs. Update the technical report and user’s manuals as required.

Commercial applications involve DoD contractors supporting the Tri-Service community, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard, the FBI, and other Government Agencies interested in fragment/debris flyout. Additional interest in this technology includes, but is not limited to, the motion picture industry, chemical manufacturing, the oil and gas industry or any other organization that utilizes high-pressure vessels, and is concerned about accurate characterization of flying debris or fragments from industrial accidents.


  1. Lines, J. A., Tillett, R. D., Ross, L. G., Chan, D., Hockaday, S., & McFarlane, N. J. B. (2001). An automatic image-based system for estimating the mass of free-swimming fish. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 31(2), 151-168.
  2. Gaich, A., Poetsch, M., & Schubert, W. (2006, June). Acquisition and assessment of geometric rock mass features by true 3D images. In ARMA US Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium (pp. ARMA-06). ARMA.
  3. Nicholson, J. I. (2022). Deep learning techniques to estimate 3D position in stereoscopic imagery. Air Force Institute of Technology. Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. Accession Number: AD1166906. DoD Dist. A, Approved for Public Release.

KEYWORDS: munitions; warhead characterization; fragments; mass estimation, hydrocodes; Machine Learning


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 24.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 24.1 SBIR Topics pre-release on November 28, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on January 3, 2024, and now closes February 21, (12:00pm ET).

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Topic Q & A

1/9/24  Q. 1. To train an ML algorithm for mass estimation it would be helpful to have access to fragments obtained from arena tests that span the range of sizes of interest - 10 grains to 2500 grains. We anticipate substantial differences in shape as a function of size so it would be helpful to have that type of data, particularly for naturally fragmenting warheads. Can that information be made available to companies selected for Phase 1.
2. Reference is made to “high fidelity Multiphysics hydrocodes” in the solicitation. Please identify these hydrocodes. Do they assume cylindrical symmetry in the fragment distributions from weapons such as the MK 84 bomb? Can information from these hydrocodes be made available to companies selected for a Phase 1 award?
Comment related to this question: Some years ago, Dr. Ed Szymanski provided data which indicates that the assumption of cylindrical symmetry is likely false – particularly in the main beam spray for weapons like the MK 80 series bombs.
3. The way the solicitation reads, the objective will be to develop a tool, or look-up library, that can be used to estimate the mass of fragments that were imaged using high speed 3D stereo photography. These 3D stereo images from a warhead test provide an estimate of fragment range together estimates of the 2-D dimensions of the fragment in the focal plane of the cameras. Comparison of the data from the stereo images with material in the ‘library’ will then be used to estimate the mass of the fragment. Is this the correct interpretation of the objective?
4. Estimates of fragment mass will depend both on the product of this SBIR and the quality of the data obtained from the stereo images – something that is not part of this effort. How does the government plan to assess accuracy?
   A. 1. Testing data may be available from the Government, however given dependencies of ownership to various Program Offices, this is not guaranteed. If data is found, the Government would consider sharing this for the benefit of the proposing organizations. Currently the onus is on the proposer to develop grounding data, which may be empirical in nature, or a combination of numerical and empirical, in order to validate potential training data sets for this project.
2. There are numerous hydrocodes available to DoD and DoD Contractors. Given the variety no single one will be highlighted in order to maintain unbiased and problem set open mindedness. Many of these hydrocodes do not assume cylindrical symmetry, as they attempt to capture full 3D nature of the breakup/fracture processes. For listing of available hydrocodes, I would recommend research into ones created and supported by the DoD and Department of Energy through their National Laboratories, although this is not an inclusive listing.
3. The objective is to develop a general purpose fragment mass estimation library that complements high-speed 3D stereoscopic data for use in high-fidelity multiphysics hydrocodes.
4. Accuracy is related to the validated uncertainty the proposer would have to establish during this project. The mass threshold estimates are shared inside the description and allow comparison of available technical solution.

End of QA
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