Automated Visual Location Fix for Submarine Navigation
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-031
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-031 TITLE: Automated Visual Location Fix for Submarine Navigation

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 visual location fix capability for submarine navigation systems that detect and recognize navigation aids used for visual fix.

DESCRIPTION: The Navy has a need for an automated fix capability in submarine combat systems. This capability will aid the submarine navigation team in decision-making and recommendations to the bridge while piloting the submarine in and out of ports.

Navigation of submarines in and out of port can be challenging due to local boating traffic and littoral water hazards. Submarine navigation teams use navigation aids to make visual fixes to determine submarine location (ref. 1). This process can be both time-consuming and error-prone. The Navy seeks to automate the visual fix process to aid navigation, team decision-making, and recommendations to the bridge. The use of digital imaging systems in submarine periscope masts allows the potential of automated pattern recognition technologies (ref. 2) for recognizing and localizing navigation aids. Automated pattern recognition is complicated by the fact there are a wide variety of types, shapes, colors, and sizes of navigation aids existing in US coastal waters (ref. 3) and around the world today. The sheer number of navigation aids around the world, as well as environmental conditions and visual occlusion also add to the degree of difficulty in the development of an automated fix capability.

An innovative approach is needed to provide an automated visual location fix capability while piloting a submarine. The algorithm(s) should be capable of operating on video from the full spectrum of imaging sensors including visible color, near infrared, short wave infrared (SWIR), and mid-wave infrared.

PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for an Automated Visual Fix capability that meet the requirements discussed in the topic description. 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. The company will work with the Navy to identify metrics for measuring performance of a prototype Automated Visual Fix capability. Testing and analytical modeling will establish feasibility.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I, the company will develop a software prototype of the Automated Visual Fix algorithm for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting Navy requirements for an Automated Visual Fix capability. The final Phase II implementation of the algorithm shall operate on standalone Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) hardware, ready for a land based demonstration using actual periscope data. Capability performance will be demonstrated through prototype testing and evaluation on real periscope data provided by the Navy. The prototype shall effectively demonstrate an improvement over the manual visual fix process using the metrics defined in Phase I. 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 Automated Visual Fix 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. The target platform for this technology is the Integrated Submarine Imaging System (ISIS) system (AN/BVY-1). The target transition program is the Advance Processor Build (APB) program, the current modernization process for submarine combat systems.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: An automated visual fix capability should easily be applicable to both commercial and military vessels. Commercial fishing vessels can potentially use this technology to navigate in and out of port.

1. Derencin, Robert. "Underwater navigation for submarines.", 16 Aug 2005

2. Jain, Anil, et al. "Statistical Pattern Recognition: A Review." IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Volume 22, Issue 1, January 2000.

3. "U.S. Aids To Navigation System." U.S. Coast Guard, June 2011,

KEYWORDS: Automated visual location fix; pattern recognition; navigation aids; image processing; digital imaging systems; visual occlusion

DoD Notice:  
Between December 12, 2014 and January 14, 2015 you may talk directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting January 15, 2015 , when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the DoD's SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS), in which the questioner and respondent remain anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS (15.1 Q&A) during the solicitation period for questions and answers, and other significant information, relevant to the SBIR 15.1 topic under which they are proposing.

If you have general questions about DoD SBIR program, please contact the DoD SBIR Help Desk at (866) 724-7457 or webmail link.


Offical DoD SBIR FY-2015.1 Solicitation Site: