Automated Visual Detection of Small Contacts on the Horizon
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-040
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-040 TITLE: Automated Visual Detection of Small Contacts on the Horizon

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 innovative automated detection capability for Navy submarine combat systems to detect possible contacts at long ranges at, or near, the horizon.

DESCRIPTION: The Navy seeks an automated visual detection software capability to improve 360-degree situational awareness for its submarine fleet. Littoral operations frequently involve navigating around a large number of marine contacts, such as fishing fleets, which may be intermingled with potentially hostile targets. Manual visual detection of small contacts and long-range contacts on, or near, the horizon from low vantage points while sweeping the periscope through 360 degrees is difficult for periscope operators. Environmental conditions on the ocean can make the manual contact detection process even more difficult. Commercial radar used by ships for situational awareness cannot be applied to submarines at periscope depth. Digital imaging systems offer the potential for rapid and accurate contact detection at longer ranges than manual visual detection. Previous attempts at visual ship detection have been limited to larger contacts, high vantage points, and other imaging systems such as buoy cameras and stationary cameras in port (Ref 1-3).

Innovative approaches of automatic detection of small and/or long-range contacts at or near the horizon in difficult operating conditions including choppy seas, low visibility, and a variety of weather conditions is needed. Contact sizes in the image may be approximately tens of pixels or less. The algorithms should be capable of operating on video from the full spectrum of imaging sensors including visible color, near infrared, short wave infrared (SWIR), mid-wave infrared (MWIR), and long-wave infrared (LWIR) sensors in multiple formats including standard and high definition. The preferred implementation of these algorithms is in the form of a software program capable of running on general-purpose processors.

PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for an innovative automated detection capability that meet the requirements as stated in the description section. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the selected concept in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concept can be feasibly developed into a useful system for the Navy through testing and analytical modeling.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II contract statement of work, the company will develop an innovative automated detection capability prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting Navy requirements for an innovative automated detection capability. Capability 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 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 most likely transition path for these algorithms is insertion into the integrated submarine imaging system (ISIS) which is the Navy�s submarine image imaging system program of record and part of the submarine combat system. The company will further develop an innovative automated detection 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: Potential markets for this technology include port security and potential use on commercial vessels to complement the current radar technologies used for situational awareness.

1. Tao, Wenbing, et al. "Unified mean shift segmentation and graph region merging algorithm for infrared ship target segmentation." Optical Engineering, Volume 46, Issue 13, December 2007.

2. Fefilatyev, Sergiy, et al. "Detection of Marine Vehicles on Horizon From Buoy Camera." (Oct. 2007, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, College of Engineering, University of South Florida Center for Ocean Technology, University of South Florida, SRI International). Date of access: April 14, 2014.

3. Sullivan, Mikel D. Rodriguez and Shah, Mubarek. "Visual surveillance in maritime port facilities." (University of Central Florida). Date of access: April 14, 2014.

KEYWORDS: Automated detection of small contacts; buoy cameras; 360-degree situational awareness; manual contact detection process in port; visual ship detection; digital imaging systems

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.
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