Bridge-to-Bridge Radio for Unmanned Surface Vehicles
Navy SBIR 2020.1 - Topic N201-041
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - firstname.lastname@example.org
Opens: January 14, 2020 - Closes: February 26, 2020 (8:00 PM ET)
AREA(S): Ground/Sea Vehicles
PROGRAM: PMS 406, Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office.
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 3.5 of the Announcement.
Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be
restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.
Create a system that converts VHF Bridge-to-Bridge radio transmissions from
voice to text to meaning and integrates them into a COLREGS reasoning engine;
and generates an intelligent reply to a proposed maneuver.
The nautical rules of the road (COLREGS) provide clear guidance for encounters
between two vessels, but they do not directly specify what should happen when
three or more vessels come in close proximity to each other at nearly the same
time. Mariners commonly deal with such situations by communicating via VHF
Bridge-to-Bridge radio. Current Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) have COLREGS
reasoning engines, but they cannot incorporate information from
Bridge-to-Bridge conversations, nor can they reply to simple maneuver
proposals. Component technologies exist to convert voice signals to text, to
convert text to meaning, and to maneuver unmanned vessels to avoid collisions
while following COLREGS. The Navy seeks an integrated solution that will enable
a USV to act much like a human mariner; in particular, the USV should be able
to understand secure Bridge-to-Bridge radio transmissions, incorporate their
meaning into its world model, develop appropriate maneuvering plans, and
respond via voice on the Bridge-to-Bridge radio. Partial solutions to the
problem may be acceptable, though preference will be given to approaches that
are comprehensive and achievable.
Provide a concept to solve part of or the entire USV Bridge-to-Bridge radio
problem stated in the Description. Demonstrate the feasibility of that concept.
Ensure that, at a minimum, the proposed end product includes recognizing common
call-ups such as “Sea Hunter, this is Sun Princess; propose a port-to-port
passage.” Produce English language transmissions from native speakers.
Integration with an actual VHF radio is not required in Phase I, but Phase I
should include a plan to extend the product in Phase II and beyond, analysis
showing viability of that plan, and a proposed approach to Phase II testing.
Build a prototype system for testing and evaluation. Incorporate into the
prototype, at a minimum, an actual VHF radio, extend functionality to recognize
English spoken by non-native speakers, and generate English replies to proposed
maneuvers. Explore additional functionalities if feasible, such as integration
with a COLREGS reasoning engine and world model. Ensure that the prototype is
delivered at least three months prior to the end of Phase II to facilitate
ashore testing followed by at-sea testing. (Note: Phase II testing may be
accomplished on a manned surrogate vessel with a stand-alone autonomy system
running on a laptop or other computer but not actually controlling the vessel’s
movements. Phase II testing may also be accomplished on a USV that is
temporarily manned for evaluation and safety reasons.) Ensure that the
prototype complies with the Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture (UMAA). The
Navy will provide UMAA documentation at the beginning of Phase II.
DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology for
Navy use. Produce a final end-to-end system that enables a USV to perform like
a human mariner, particularly in its use of the VHF Bridge-to-Bridge radio for
negotiating maneuvers in situations involving three or more vessels. The Navy
will provide a candidate COLREGS reasoning engine for integration along with an
Interface Control Document (ICD) at the beginning of Phase III if needed by the
proposer. The Navy expects proposers to support transition to Phase III by
integrating into the ICD, supporting additional laboratory and at-sea testing,
and developing any required intermediate hardware. This technology will be used
in the Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV) program, the Large Unmanned
Surface Vehicle (LUSV) program, and possibly other USV programs. This
technology will meet critical Navy needs by helping to ensure safe USV
navigation in compliance with COLREGS. The product will be validated and tested
through extensive laboratory trials followed by more limited at-sea trials.
Claudio and Ricotti, Klucio Prina. “Speech Recognition: Theory and C++
Implementation (With CD).” John Wiley & Sons, 2008. https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Speech+Recognition%3A+Theory+and+C%2B%2B+Implementation-p-9780471977308
Danielle S. "Computational methods to extract meaning from text and
advance theories of human cognition." Topics in Cognitive Science 3, no. 1
Speech Recognition Software; Voice to Text; Text to Meaning; COLREGS; VHF
Bridge-to-Bridge Radio; USV COLREGS Compliance; Natural Language Processing