Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) Technology to Enable Readiness of Navy Ranges
Navy SBIR 2019.3 - Topic N193-148
NAVFAC - Mr. Timothy Petro - [email protected]
Opens: September 24, 2019 - Closes: October 23, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) Technology to Enable Readiness of Navy Ranges


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: U.S. Navy Marine Species Monitoring program sponsored by US Fleet Forces & Commander Pac Fleet

OBJECTIVE: The Navy seeks to develop enabling technologies that can collect a broad spectrum of ocean acoustic data that allows for large scale spatial and temporal research on ambient sources of sound and biologics such as whales and dolphins.

DESCRIPTION: The Navy must train and test to enhance warfighter lethality and enable undersea dominance. In order to ensure uninterrupted training and testing, the Navy is responsible for compliance with a suite of federal environmental laws and regulations such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). As part of the regulatory compliance process associated with these Acts, the Navy is responsible for assessing the potential impacts from military readiness activities. The Navy is required to apply for environmental permits to conduct activities that may result in impacts to protected species regulated under environmental statutes, such as ESA or MMPA. Without permits and associated environmental compliance, the Navy risks not being able to train or test. Without training and testing, the Navy cannot be ready to meet its mission. Environmental compliance is fundamental to continued uninterrupted training and testing, and ultimately, to Navy readiness.

The Navy needs to be able to monitor sites of interest such as Navy training and testing areas to avoid further unnecessary mitigations and potential geographic restrictions that may affect readiness. Currently, the Navy uses visual survey teams on a contractor-supplied vessel to monitor the presence of marine mammals in areas of Navy interest. The costs of this method preclude the Navy from being able to effectively monitor large geographic areas, such as the entire Southern California ocean basin south of Point Conception and out to the extent of the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ).

The Navy seeks to develop enabling technologies that can collect a broad spectrum of ocean acoustic data that allows for large scale spatial and temporal research on ambient sources of sound and biologics such as whales and dolphins. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is a proven means of detecting, classifying, and localizing vocally active marine mammals, as well as a number of fish species. Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) are the most effective platform type to cover large spatial and temporal scales, with an endurance of three months or greater. The Navy seeks the development of cost-effective PAM technologies (less than $100K) capable of sampling up to 200 kHz, deployed on UUVs capable of recording and archiving acoustic time-series data, running near real-time acoustic detectors�� and classifiers capable of transmitting detection reports via remote satellite link. The UUV, PAM-integrated package�� needs to be capable of being deployed and recovered nearshore from small vessels such as a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) with a minimally staffed crew. The platform should weigh less than 115 kilograms and be less than 4.5 meters in length, not including towed cabled sensor weight or length.

The Navy is interested in increasing knowledge and understanding of all marine mammal species. However, in order to provide some guidance on research priorities, below is a list of priority marine mammal species:
� -Deep diving species (Cuvier�s beaked whale, other beaked whales, and other deep diving species)
� -ESA-listed species (large whales)
The UUV PAM system should be capable of acoustically detecting at least one of the priority species. Systems with capabilities to detect multiple species in the low and high frequency bands are desirable.

This investment area aligns with the goals of the Navy�s Task Force Ocean to make every Navy platform a sensor for data collection. Advances in sensor technologies and platforms are increasing rapidly so it is important to continually integrate these new capabilities to reduce financial or operational constraints that impact the mission. Data from this technology development has further application in oceanographic, UUV, and sensor development research within Navy. This technology would have immediate application to enable efficient and cost-effective implementation of the Navy�s Marine Species Monitoring program in support of the Navy�s environmental compliance and permitting processes.

Minimum specifications� :
� - Minimum 3-month deployment and recording endurance
� - Acoustic frequency band of general interest: 10Hz-100kHz (designs may limit to specific bands within this range to target specific species)
� - Design PAM to detect at least one species of primary interest and determine direction of signal detected with a minimum of 30 degree bearing resolution (designs may limit to specific bands within this range to target specific species)
� - Capability to run onboard detectors and/or classifiers for acoustic signals of interest and transmit results in near-real time via iridium
� - Develop guidance documentation for externally created detector and classifiers developed in MATLAB to interface UUV PAM platform
� - Archive, unprocessed acoustic and environmental data onboard the system for post-recovery analysis
� - Remotely operated and autonomous navigation, and near real-time position and system health monitoring
� - Near real-time sampling and reporting of oceanographic data such as salinity, temperature, and depth
� - Acoustic sensor/s deployment predominantly below the thermocline with a maximum depth of 3,000 meters
� - Platform speed up to 2 knots, taking in consideration of minimizing flow noise over acoustic sensor/s

PHASE I: Identify existing UUV and PAM�� technologies capabilities that could be leveraged towards the design of a prototype. Include a cost benefit analysis and proposed recommendation of the initial design specifications for a Phase II prototype that would best address the need in a cost-effective manner. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capability description to build a prototype in Phase II. Develop a Phase II plan.

PHASE II: Build a full prototype and conduct an initial bench test of the sensor and platform package with the minimum specifications listed in the Description. Following the bench test, conduct at-sea deployment testing nearshore with a phased test plan to demonstrate offshore capability. At completion of testing, the sensor package must be able to demonstrate that it is capable of meeting the minimum specifications and be deployed and recovered in an efficient manner with minimal ship time and manpower. Total deployment, operation, and recovery costs should be less than $250K per mission. Additionally, package must demonstrate the ability to run onboard acoustic detectors and classifiers for marine mammal species of interest, such as those that are available on Oregon State University�s Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies website [Ref 5], and send reports via remote link in near real-time, along with location and other platform information.

At the end of Phase II, the awardee will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Navy and potential commercial use.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Demonstrate the UUV, PAM package in application to a specific Navy Marine Species Monitoring program objective of acoustically monitoring a geographic area of interest. Following successful demonstration of application to a specific objective of navy interest, a transition plan will be developed to transition the technology to the Navy�s Marine Species Monitoring program. This technology has commercial applications for oceanographic and marine species research by universities and other government agencies. For potential future application of the UUV PAM system in sensitive locations such as Navy ranges, the Navy will need to consider including encryption of the data to meet Federal Information Standard (FIPS) 140 Level 1-2 standards using National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) approved technology.


1. �The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 as Amended.�

2. �Endangered Species Act.�

3. �National Environmental Policy Act.�

4. Office of Naval Research. �Task Force Ocean.�

5. Oregon State University, Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies. �Ishmael.�

KEYWORDS: Marine Mammals; Autonomous; Monitoring; Species; Detection; Classification; Localization; Sensor; Acoustic; Glider; AUV; UUV; PAM



These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.3 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.3 BAA SBIR pre-release on August 23, 2019, which opens to receive proposals on September 24, 2019, and closes October 23, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.

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