Using Environmental Information in State Estimation for Undersea Systems
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-033
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-033 TITLE: Using Environmental Information in State Estimation for Undersea Systems

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 state estimation capability for undersea systems that exploits physical environmental characteristics to improve target motion analysis (TMA) and to avoid detection through exploiting the environment.

DESCRIPTION: A submarine is vitally dependent on its acoustic sensors during periods of total submersion. Because of this, collecting, associating, and assimilating acoustic data to generate the tactical and operational picture depends greatly on the effects of the acoustic environment. While acoustic tactical decision aids have been available and in use for years, currently limited research and development is available to reliably exploit environmental information in an automated manner to improve contact range and velocity estimation processes.

This topic will pursue more fully automated signal and information processing techniques to leverage environmental knowledge such as propagation paths, boundary interactions, and other physical phenomenon to aid in target localization and state estimation using acoustic sensors. Data comes from multiple sources in-situ both organic (onboard) and non-organic (off board); then there are historical databases of the environment. These are all to be considered as part of this effort. State estimation, as commonly referred to in the tracking and fusion literature, is defined as a quantitative statement of an object�s position and velocity with a principled quantified characterization of uncertainty of these values as well as the possible inclusion of the target's spectral properties. The small business should document the quantification methods and processes as part of their concept. Successful efforts must deal with uncertainties in the environment and physical processes affecting acoustic source localization (ref 1). The Navy is pursuing innovative approaches to exploiting information about the environment to enable the Navy to estimate the distance to a contact held on passive radar.

The physics of undersea acoustic propagation are well understood, a number of numerical and closed form methods exist that can be employed to aid both the operator and automated tracking and fusion processes to reduce target state estimate uncertainties (ref 2). Approaches that address these physical processes directly in determining state estimates are more desirable than approaches that attempt to condition state estimates to account for the environment after the estimates are produced, since such approaches rarely address the accrual of environmental information over time.

Efforts to improve state estimation can benefit from environmental information, such as the existence and location of convergence zones as well as indications of ranges that are not possible because of an acoustic path blocked by some bathymetric feature (ref 3). For example, the initialization of a target state estimate or "solution" stands to benefit from the use of this information once properly characterized in terms of the confidence in environmental knowledge.

Of great importance to any concept, transitioning to operational use will be a means to provide confidence to the Command Team and crew that environmental processing is working correctly and accurately. The Navy is looking for innovative approaches to estimate the reliability of environmental data and processing efforts on target localization and state estimation. A critical factor for success is then a demonstrable means for the concept to provide transparency to the operator on all facets of the environmental effects on the state estimation. In addition to this transparency, a means to "self-regulate" is of equal importance. We define self-regulation as the property of the system to assess inputs and accurately characterize its fused contact output in terms of uncertainty or confidence. Empirical and analytic techniques for this self-assessment are well known [refs 4, 5]. A successful concept must then self-regulate to report when operational thresholds for confidence are not satisfactory to remain under automated contact fusion. Effective approaches will provide a means for rapid and effective operator interaction with the system to act when manual attention is required.

PHASE I: The company will define measurable criteria for an automated State Estimation capability as described 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. Testing and analytical modeling will establish feasibility.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II contract statement of work the company will develop a prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the Navy�s requirements for the automated State Estimation capability as described above. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into a design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use. Phase II has the potential to be classified.

PHASE III: The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The company will develop an automated State Estimation 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: Technology developed under this effort could be of benefit to other areas significantly affected by environmental characteristics such as Active Sonar, Over-the-Horizon-Radar, Urban GPS, and similar operating environments.

1. Dosso, Stan; "Environmental Uncertainty in Ocean Acoustic Source Localization" Inverse Problems, vol. 19, num. 2, pg. 419, 2003.

2. Jensen, Finn; et al.; Computational Ocean Acoustics AIP Press 1994.

3. Stone, Lawrence; et al., Bayesian Multiple Target Tracking Second Edition, Artech House, 2014.

4. Ristic, Branko; et al., Beyond the Kalman Filter: Particle Filters for Tracking Applications. Artech House, 2004.

5. Edited by, Van Trees, Harry and Bell, Kristine, Bayesian Bounds for Parameter Estimation and Nonlinear Fitering/Tracking, Wiley Interscience, 2007.

KEYWORDS: Submarine acoustic sensors; acoustic environment; exploiting environmental information; target localization; state estimation; automated tracking

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