Vehicle-Borne Sonar for Unmanned Harbor Security

Presenter: Thomas Pastore, SPAWAR 

SSC Pacific has led the development of a two-vehicle unmanned system for the purpose of inspection and identification of underwater threats in ports and harbors. The system consists of a 4-meter catamaran surface platform and a tethered submersible ROV. Thus, the combined system has the advantages of both platforms. The surface vehicle provides high speed and substantial standoff from the operator, while the ROV maintains a high-bandwidth tethered connection to surface, ability to move close to and optimize aspect to underwater threats. A joint navigation and control system accomplishes tether management and georeferencing and enables optimal positioning of the system's sensors in the water column. The subsurface platform carries a custom dual-frequency BlueView sonar, which uses a 450-kHz horizontal array and a 900-kHz vertical aperture to enable simultaneous viewing of a threat in two planes. The command and control system includes an automatic target recognition (ATR) capability. The system was initially designed to identify swimmer threats, and it has since been adapted to perform mine countermeasure) missions. This unique system can be used for many other inspection and intervention applications. 

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