Underwater Tracking System for Accurate Horizontal Directional Drilling
Navy SBIR FY2013.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2013.1
Topic No.: N131-021
Topic Title: Underwater Tracking System for Accurate Horizontal Directional Drilling
Proposal No.: N131-021-0334
Firm: Physical Optics Corporation
Electro-Optics Systems Division
1845 West 205th Street
Torrance, California 90501-1510
Contact: John Matthews
Phone: (310) 320-3088
Web Site: www.poc.com
Abstract: Addressing the Navy's need to develop an accurate underwater tracking tool for Horizontal Directional Drilling systems, Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to develop a new Underwater Tracking System (UNTRAS), based on implementation of tunable ELF transmitters. The system comprises two battery-operated units: diver operated handheld detector (HHD) and beacon ELF transceiver (BETR) that is placed inside the drill head (into the standard beacon housing). BETR's receiver remotely receives command signals from the HHD in order to emit different ELFs/ELFs combinations for drill head tracking. BETR's transmitter serves to emit optimal ELFs/ELFs combinations to track a drill head. The HHD incorporates low SWaP ELF receiver based on POC's magnetic field processing modules and ELF command transmitter to remotely control the BETR to generate frequencies required for tracking. In Phase I, POC will develop UNTRAS design concept, perform detailed frequency domain analysis and modeling to identify optimal frequency/set of frequencies for accurate underwater drill-head tracking. Based on the design concept developed, POC will assemble a scaled-down UNTRAS laboratory prototype for testing. In Phase II, the UNTRAS design will be further refined and optimized, and POC will build a full-scale system prototype and create its test plan in a near relevant environment.
Benefits: The primary application of the UNTRAS will be underwater horizontal directional drilling tracking both for military and civilian needs. UNTRAS will also benefit through-the-earth mine emergency communications systems that also operate in the low frequency band and require efficient transmitters to gain range between miners trapped underground and surface rescue teams. Specific technological components developed for UNTRAS can be applied to electric and gas utilities, seawater intake, oil and gas pipeline, where benefits over conventional tracking tools include reduced down-time and reduced operational costs.