This solicitation is now closed
Tactical Bioluminescence Navigation Aid
Navy SBIR 2008.2 - Topic N08-193
ONR - Mrs. Tracy Frost -
Opens: May 19, 2008 - Closes: June 18, 2008

N08-193 TITLE: Tactical Bioluminescence Navigation Aid

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Ground/Sea Vehicles, Sensors, Battlespace


OBJECTIVE: Develop a navigation aid for underwater vehicles that will sense bioluminescence triggered by the vehicle and local environmental information (e.g., water optical properties and ambient light), ingest the data into a realistic hydrologic optics model capable of propagating the bioluminescence to and through the water surface, and provide the navigator (autonomous or manned) with a real-time assessment of detection probability by an above-water observer.

DESCRIPTION: Covert, underwater navigation in coastal and estuarine waters is often compromised by bioluminescence from marine phyto- and zooplankton, triggered by turbulence generated by the underwater vehicle. If the vehicle it close enough to the surface and if the bioluminescence is bright enough, the stimulated light can be observed above water. This project will 1) develop a simple, compact, robust, low-power approach to monitor bioluminescence intensity (BI), water optical properties (OP), and ambient light, 2) develop a simple radiative transfer model that will ingest the sensor data in real time, propagate the stimulated light to and through the water surface, and contrast the signature with above-water ambient light conditions and 3) develop a simple navigation aid that will provide the vehicle control system in real time (automated or manned) the bioluminescence detection probability based on the estimated water-leaving signature. The system should be as compact and conceptually simple as possible. For example, simple radiometers, strategically placed on the platform, could simultaneously measure the ambient light field and platform-induced bioluminescence directly. The radiative transfer model should be analytically simple and capable of residing on a specialized chip within the circuitry. The display should be graphical and easily understood at a glance.

PHASE I: Develop a detailed description of the TBNA; determine the feasibility of the proposed sampling and modeling methodology; provide a concept for a real-time display in the case of a human operator; estimate the production cost for the system (excluding integration into the target platform).

PHASE II: Develop and evaluate prototype sensors, develop and evaluate a radiative transfer modeling construct; develop and evaluate prototype real-time graphical displays of detection probability; demonstrate an end-to-end system concept, including detection probabilities for realistic platforms in reasonable coastal and estuarine scenarios.

PHASE III: Produce and field test a beta-version of the TBNA under a range of conditions and demonstrate system utility within an appropriate Fleet exercise.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Sensors should have civilian application to monitoring nearshore or estuarine water quality, for example, as a tool for detecting harmful algal blooms. Sensor could be used to complement environmental assessment activities, including habitat evaluation. A small, inexpensive, easily-deployed sensor suite will offer similar advantages to non-DoD users.

1. Mobley, C. D., Light and Water: Radiative Transfer in Natural Waters. 1994. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

2. Trees, C.C., P.W. Bissett, H,. Dierssen, D.D.R. Kohler, M.A. Moline, J.L. Mueller, R.E. Pieper, M.S. Twardowski, and J.R.V. Zaneveld. 2005. Monitoring water transparency and diver visibility in ports and harbors using aircraft hyperspectral remote sensing. Prodeedings from SPIE Port and Harbor Security Conference, Vol. 5780, February, Orlando, FL.

3. Twardowski, M.S., J.R.V. Zaneveld, C.M. Moore, J. Mueller, C. Trees, O. Schofield, S. Freeman, T. Helble, and G. Hong. 2005. Diver visibility measured with a compact scattering-attenuation meter (SAM) compatible with AUVs and other small deployment platforms. Prodeedings from SPIE Port and Harbor Security Conference, Vol. 5780, February, Orlando, FL.

4. Edith A. Widder, E.A., Latz, M.I., And Case, J. F. 1983. Marine Bioluminescence Spectra Measured With An Optical Multichannel Detection System. Biol Bull 165: 791-810.

KEYWORDS: Bioluminescence, radiative transfer, tactical navigation aid.

DoD Notice:  
Between April 21 and May 18, 2008, you may talk directly with the Topic Author(s) to ask technical questions about the topics. Their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting May 19, 2008, when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
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