Canadian marine technology company Kraken Robotic Systems has completed development of a real-time synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) system for the US Navy’s REMUS 600 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).
The real-time sonar has already been integrated and tested onboard the REMUS 600, operated by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Rhode Island.
Work on a high-resolution sonar that would improve detection and classification capability by providing more details on the object has been underway for years according to Kraken.
Researchers have been developing machine intelligence that enables autonomous AUV minehunting and the development of automatic target recognition algorithms that increase confidence that a detected object is properly classified. As explained by the company, accurate classification is critical to efficient mine countermeasures. Migrating the algorithms and behaviours to operate onboard the AUV in real-time holds the potential to significantly increase the speed and accuracy for mine countermeasure missions.
“Kraken is proud to have developed an AUV solution for real-time, ultra high-resolution imaging and 3D mapping of the seafloor,” said Karl Kenny, Kraken’s president and CEO. “We expect this technology will revolutionize the way in which big data from synthetic aperture sonar imagery and bathymetry is processed. We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to our colleagues at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center for their support in deployment and testing of our solution on their REMUS 600 AUV.”
Comparing the synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) system to conventional side scan sonars, Kraken noted that a target pixel resolution of at least 5cm was required for effective minehunting. Conventional sonars are capable of obtaining the resolution at a range of up to 25 meters, while the SAS achieves the same results at ranges of over 250 meters.
“The major concern of mine countermeasures is to keep sailors far away from the mine threat while having a high level of confidence in the detection and classification of possible threats. Real-time SAS signal processing onboard an AUV is a significant step forward from the current approach. Kraken’s real-time SAS can increase safety, improve operational efficiency, reduce the mission risk of missing mines and significantly reduce and/or eliminate post mission analysis time,” Kenny further said.