Innovative Velocity Sensors
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-026
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - dean.r.putnam@navy.mil
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-026 TITLE: Innovative Velocity Sensors

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PEO IWS 5.0, Undersea Warfare Systems

RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: Develop innovative acoustic particle velocity sensors for SONAR arrays that achieve requirements for greater sensitivity, environmental stability, and lower costs.

DESCRIPTION: The Navy has identified needs to improve performance of submarines to decrease vulnerability and increase maneuverability. Currently, the Navy is developing technologies for building and installing large SONAR arrays external to the hull of a submarine. These technologies allow for a lightweight, scalable array which provides many options for installation and deployment. Integral to these arrays are the acoustic particle velocity sensors.

There are several velocity sensors available for use: however, these sensors do not meet the improved sensor sensitivity desired by the Navy in order to increase the capability of submarine flank SONAR arrays. In addition, current sensor technology does not meet all the sensor environmental requirements that come with being installed on a submarine external to the pressure hull. Available sensors also require a significant amount of hands on labor to manufacture and test which drives the per channel cost up. Improvements to the current sensor technology are needed to meet these evolving requirements. The Navy requires a sensor with at least 6dB (goal of 10dB) improved sensitivity over current velocity sensor technology over the frequency band of 0 20kHz [Ref 1]. The sensors must be neutrally buoyant and respond to flexural excitation on a viscoelastic material [Ref 2]. The form factor should be similar to current technology [Ref 3]. The sensor must also be a higher electro-magnetic field resistance sensor and be robust so that it can survive the operational, physical, environmental, and compatibility challenges encountered in a shipboard submarine environment. The manufacturing and subsequent qualification and production testing should minimize the amount of hands on labor in order to reduce the recurring sensor cost. The Navy needs an innovative sensor solution that can meet all the performance, form factor, and environmental requirements while striving to reduce per channel cost. This requires innovation at the design level to trade off all the performance and environmental requirements against packaging of the sensor as well as to facilitate automation during the production phase. Attention is needed to materials used and their integration into the design to yield a sensor with highly repeatable performance so that the amount of post-production testing and verification can be reduced.

Integrated electronics packages will be considered, but are not desired as the sensors will mount externally to the submarine hull and maintenance and replacement will be difficult and costly. A more complex sensor design (i.e., including electronics) introduces more failure mechanisms that could lead to increased life cycle costs which should be avoided. However, designs which include integrated electronics packages will be considered if they provide increased sensitivity over current technologies in the range of 6dB to 10dB. This technology will include concepts such as investigations into design principles, materials, and construction techniques, as well as create a benchmark "trade space" of innovations against sensor sensitivity, sensor weight and neutral buoyancy, volume, cost, robustness against environmental concerns, and other pertinent parameters of velocity sensors

If this technology is implemented successfully, it will benefit the Navy by providing a lower cost sensor solution that enables affordable array development. Performance improvement and cost are two key benefits the Navy will seek with this technology. The Navy needs improved detection, giving the platform an increased likelihood of mission success while maintaining a less vulnerable state. Sensor improvement will increase situational awareness which will result in improved operations. Reduced costs will lead to acquisition affordability and improved reliability will lead to lower maintenance.

PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for improved velocity sensors that meet the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concept can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan that addresses technical risk reduction and provides performance goals and key technical milestones.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a prototype improved velocity sensor for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for improved velocity sensors. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The company will develop improved velocity sensors according to the Phase III development plan for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The oil and mineral exploration and automotive industries will benefit from having adaptable and scalable sensor acquisition systems for industrial floor and/or harsh field environments.

REFERENCES:
1. Leslie, C.B.; Kendall, J.M.; Jones, J.L. Hydrophone for measuring particle velocity. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1956, 28, 711-715.

2. Berliner, Marilyn J. and Lindberg, Jan F., eds. Acoustic Particle Velocity Sensors: Design, Performance, and Applications. New York: AIP Press, 1995.

3. Moffett, M.; Trivett, D.; Klippel, P.; Baird, P. D., "A Piezoelectric, Flexural-Disk, Neutrally Buoyant, Underwater Accelerometer." IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ULTRASONICS, FERROELECTRICS, AND FREQUENCY CONTROL. 45. no. 5 (1998): 1341.

KEYWORDS: acoustic particle velocity sensor, sensor weight and neutral buoyancy, submarine flank sonar array, improved sensor sensitivity, sensor environmental requirements, viscoelastic material, higher electro-magnetic field resistance sensor

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