SONAR Visual Reconstruction Environment (SVRE)
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-028
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-028 TITLE: SONAR Visual Reconstruction Environment (SVRE)

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PEO IWS 5.0, Undersea Warfare Systems

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative interactive visual reconstruction capability for Navy sonar systems to improve Navy ASW proficiency for both training and operational use.

DESCRIPTION: The Navy seeks an innovative virtualization software tool to enhance Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) proficiency through intuitive visual animations that use actual sonar, ground truth, and environmental data combined with sensor performance modeling to provide understanding of complex environmental and tactical situations.

The Navy has a need to improve both operational proficiency and training of operators within a constrained operational training environment. Current sonar operator training includes classroom training on a sonar user interface driven by recorded sea data and/or sonar simulators. These sonar user interfaces match in function what is aboard ship. However, current training cannot teach advanced concepts and operation in complex environments. Also, the effectiveness of current training has been degraded by compressed training cycles.

New innovative reconstruction software tools that work with the sonar user interfaces and provide an intuitive animated visualization would allow the instructor to reveal complex environmental effects to determine what is displayed on the sonar user interface. These tools would allow the instructor to decompose the environment by selecting individual SONAR settings, ship operations, and environmental decisions for visualization. The tools would need to be able to effectively communicate complex acoustic propagation phenomena such as multi-path, bottom bounce, reverberation, convergence zones, and mutual interference. Of particular interest is the potential to use technology related to virtual 3D simulations to help SONAR operators better understand how to improve tactical system employment. The use of such tools to create an active learning environment is anticipated to increase student engagement, comprehension, and retention, as has been explored by Bonwell and Falvo (Ref 1, 2). The unique ability of electronic media and virtual environments to enable such active learning has been discussed by Barjis et al., Franzoni and Assar (Ref 3, 4). The training tool would reside within fielded surface ship sonar systems, such as the AN/SQQ-89 A(V)15, The reconstruction tool could also be used during at-sea operations to enhance situational awareness and operational proficiency.

Key features would include: the ability to conduct "what if" analysis that cannot be achieved with recorded sea data; the ability to manipulate sonar settings to maximize acoustic sensor capabilities based on acoustic propagation and the other sonar equation elements; the ability to manipulate the entire sensor suite to reinforce the impact of operator action; and the ability to conduct interactive instructional playback of operational data or training scenarios. The reconstruction capability will enable research into how sailor learning and proficiency can be enhanced. It would be desirable to focus on task-based (vice data-based) target detection and localization displays, along with imaging system enhancements to support automated visual detection, tracking, classification, and ranging. These features should provide the operator with automated information, including threat and trend data.

The desired capability will replay either synthetic data or real world data collected during operational exercises. It will illustrate sonar signal origins, resulting sonar display features, and operational impacts. The software tool should concentrate on methods proven to effectively train adults (andragogy). System design should consider adaptive training models that allow the tool to match teaching strategies to individual student learning styles (cf. Felder & Silverman) and quantify the benefit of this optimization. Due to rapid evolution of hardware technology, the software tool should be hardware agnostic to allow for transportability as system architectures evolve.

The reconstruction visualization tool will cover the required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) objectives required of the Sonar operator and evaluator. It is anticipated that this technology will significantly improve teaching efficiency and retention of perishable skills, yielding a 30% improvement in 6 month skill retention levels and 25% reduction in training time.

PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for an interactive visual reconstruction capability that can be applied to the problem 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 testing and analytical modeling. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan and addresses technical risk reduction providing performance goals and key technical milestones.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for an interactive visual reconstruction capability. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters 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 technology for Navy use. The company will develop an interactive visual reconstruction capability according to the Phase III development plan 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: Innovative reconstruction and teaching tool with automated animated visualization creation would provide training improvements in any complex ocean environment that includes sonar/acoustic sensors used on commercial platforms like remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and unmanned vehicles (UV), including surface vehicles and underwater gliders. Automated animated visualization will provide benefit to any dynamic commercial application requiring operators to adapt and conform to changing environments such as firefighting, meteorology, law enforcement, pilots, academia, etc.

1. Bonwell, Charles C. Ph.D.,"Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom", ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC, 1991

2. Falvo, David A., Delaware State University, "Animations and Simulations for Teaching and Learning Molecular Chemistry", International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 2008

3. Barjis, Joseph, et alii, "Innovative Teaching Using Simulation and Virtual Environments", Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management, Volume 7, 2012

4. Franzoni, A. L., & Assar, S.,"Student Learning Styles Adaptation Method Based on Teaching Strategies and Electronic Media", Educational Technology & Society, 2009

KEYWORDS: Sonar Operator; Sonar Reconstruction Tool; Andragogy; Geospatial Information Systems (GIS); diverse littoral environments; Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)

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