Bioluminescence Risk Detection Aid
Navy SBIR FY2008.2

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2008.2
Topic No.: N08-193
Topic Title: Bioluminescence Risk Detection Aid
Proposal No.: N082-193-0199
Firm: Western Environmental Tech. Laboratories, Inc.
620 Applegate St.
PO Box 518
Philomath, Oregon 97370
Contact: Cristina Orrico
Phone: (541) 929-5650
Web Site:
Abstract: The objective of the proposed work is to develop a detailed description and methodology for an intuitive, real-time bioluminescence risk detection aid (BRDA) for underwater vehicle navigation and mission planning. The purpose of the BRDA is to provide real-time information as to the probability of above water visual detection of platform-induced (e.g. an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, SEAL Delivery Vehicle, or diver) bioluminescence based on local environmental data, in situ measurements, and simple radiative transfer models. Our envisioned BRDA will include 1) a suite of simple, compact, low power sensors, 2) a data acquisition and processing system to integrate measurement streams and apply a simple radiative transfer algorithm to determine bioluminescence detection risk, and 3) a simple, graphical user interface to display real-time threat risk. In this Phase I proposal, we provide a description our proposed measurement suite, a bioluminescence contrast model, and a conceptual framework for the user interface. As part of our efforts, we will conduct a series of field experiments to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed BRDA system from which we will develop a detailed design concept for implementation of the BRDA system for an AUV.
Benefits: The primary goal for WET Labs in developing the proposed BRDA is to produce a sensing system that will fulfill a direct naval need. We envision that through the process of our Phase I and II efforts, we will more narrowly focus on defining and developing a commercial sensing system that can be deployed on naval battlespace platforms. We envision that our primary pathway for commercialization will be towards producing a sensing system that can be transitioned to Fleet operations. Through the work of our proposed Phase I efforts, we foresee several potential opportunities to expand our commercial "tool chest" beyond the defined military applications. For example, one potential outcome from our development of a calibrated internal light source and irradiance detector pair would be a small, compact, low power diffuse attenuation meter that is relatively independent of solar geometry. As described above, as a quasi-inherent optical property this instrument would have significant utility in providing measurements of water clarity and visibility. When combined with instruments for measuring backscattering, beam attenuation, and total scattering, WET Labs would now have a complete line of low power, low cost, compact IOP sensors for AUVs, including a sensor to measure absorption. Perhaps equally as significant, we foresee the development of smart sensing algorithms and processing systems that provide real-time probabilities and estimates of events (in our case detection by bioluminescence generation) using optical measurements combined with models as the next generational technical advancement to support not only naval needs, but also many research and ocean monitoring programs. The convergence of advances in optical instrumentation, computing and processing power are enabling a new generation of sensing systems to be developed, whereby data from multiple sensors can be combined with complex algorithms for event detection in real-time on compact, low power in situ platforms. Through our proposed efforts, we envision developing such a "smart sensing" system, namely the BRDA. The experience gained from developing such a system will be immediately transferable to other sensing systems where quantitative and predictive event detection is needed. For example, harmful algal bloom event detection algorithms based on absorption and backscattering spectra in combination with chlorophyll fluorescence data could be used in real-time to provide bloom occurrence probabilities. Our work efforts in Phase I and II would provide a solid foundation from which we could build upon in developing the next generation of smart sensors.