Multi-Aperture Vector Sensor Vertical Array Processing Enhancements to Reduce Operator Workload

Navy SBIR 22.1 - Topic N221-053
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Opens: January 12, 2022 - Closes: February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est)

N221-053 TITLE: Multi-Aperture Vector Sensor Vertical Array Processing Enhancements to Reduce Operator Workload

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Sensors

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 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.

OBJECTIVE: Develop automation technology to fuse together vector sensor multi-axis direction information with high-resolution multi-aperture/multi-frequency vertical sensor beams.

DESCRIPTION: Advanced fielded surveillance systems include both sophisticated sonar arrays and processing to provide state-of-the-art real-time maritime surveillance. Over the last decade, both sensors and processing techniques have advanced considerably to keep ahead of quieting sonar contacts. Very recently, vector sensors have been developed that possess the ability to provide acoustic field directionalities at the element level. Processing techniques to fully exploit this added capability are of interest to the U.S. Navy. Additionally, advanced computing hardware has allowed sensor processing to evolve to very high directional resolutions. The existence of such high resolution creates many surfaces over which surveillance operators must manually search on many sensors individually with very minimal automation support technology.

This SBIR topic seeks to develop a technology that will both leverage new vector sensing vertical linear sonar arrays and reduce operator workload associated with the tracking and localization of sonar contacts during surveillance. Vertical linear arrays have been used for surveillance for decades and provide good vertical depression/elevation angle resolution. With the addition of vector sensor elements, improved angular resolution is possible. Proposed solutions should be capable of executing, within the framework of the Integrated Common Processor (ICP), adhering to available computational footprints, supporting single sensor processing with multiple sensing modalities such as frequency and angle, supporting multiple-sensor processing, and reducing operator workload by a factor of 6. The automated multi-aperture signal processing and data fusion required for the intended transition is highly specialized and not available commercially.

Certification of technology will require the company to collaborate with the Governmentís Integrated Common Processor (ICP). The integrator will be designated by the PMS-485 Program Office. Testing and certification of the software module will be performed using operational system data against relevant performance metrics. The contractor and integrator will demonstrate the capability using multiple datasets and support future changes as required by an Advanced Processing Build (APB)-like development cycle.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA), formerly the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DCSA and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Develop an algorithmic concept to address the single- and multiple-sensor processing of vector sensor-based vertical linear arrays to simultaneously reduce sonar operator workload associated with contact tracking and localization. Demonstrate algorithmic feasibility using simulated data and realistic sonar array parameters. Provide a justification for how the proposed approach will reduce operator workload.

The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype by acquiring real sensor data from the Government with actual sonar array physical and processing parameters and demonstrate the ability to achieve improved contact localization and decrease sonar operator workload. Further refine the algorithm based on the findings when processing the real data. Collect and collate supporting results and provide briefings to the program office and technical points of contact.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Transition the software module to an appropriate surveillance system. Support the full integration, testing, and validation of the developed software module in the Governmentís Integrated Common Processor (ICP). The integrator will be designated by the PMS-485 Program Office. Testing and certification of the software module will be performed using operational system data against relevant performance metrics. Demonstrate the capability using multiple datasets and support future changes as required by an Advanced Processing Build (APB)-like development cycle.

In addition to the surveillance sonar benefits of the technology developed under this SBIR, many other opportunities exist for its dual use. For example, both surface sonars and submarine sonars experience similar operator workload challenges.

REFERENCES:

  1. D. Abraham, "Underwater Acoustic Signal Process: Modeling, Detection, and Estimation", Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 2019.
  2. Van Trees, H. L., Optimum Array Processing: Part IV of Detection, Estimation, and Modulation Theory. Wiley Print, New York, 2002.

KEYWORDS: Vector sensors; vertical linear array; multi-aperture signal processing; multi-sensor data fusion; operator workload reduction; automation.

** TOPIC NOTICE **

The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

The DoD issued its 22.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 1, 2021, which opens to receive proposals on January 12, 2022, and closes February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est).

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