Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Hardware In The Loop and Software Sensor Simulator
Navy SBIR 2016.1 - Topic N161-045
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: January 11, 2016 - Closes: February 17, 2016

N161-045 TITLE: Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Hardware In The Loop and Software Sensor Simulator

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS495, Mine Warfare Program Office, Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and

OBJECTIVE: Develop a Hardware in the Loop (HIL) test-bed for current and future Multi-Spectral Imaging (MSI), Simultaneous Multi-Spectral Imaging (SMSI), and future Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Block II sensors.

DESCRIPTION: The mission of COBRA is to conduct unmanned aerial tactical reconnaissance in the littoral battlespace for detection and localization of minefields and obstacles in the surf zone and beach zone prior to an amphibious assault. The COBRA Block I system is in Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and is designed for daytime detection of surface laid mine-lines and obstacles in the beach zone with limited capability in the surf zone (Ref. 1). The COBRA Block II program, currently beginning development, extends the minefield and mine line detection into the Surf Zone while adding nighttime capability. The COBRA program is interested in technologies that would facilitate quicker selection of sensors and a consistent platform for comparing sensors for both Block I and Block II systems.

To achieve the detection goal, COBRA Block I utilizes a passive, multi-spectral sensor system which operates in 6 bands from near UV to near infrared. The sensor is capable of providing 4 frames per second (4 Hz) for the 6 bands with a 16M camera (4896x3264) yielding a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) of 2.4" which translates into 6.1 Gigabits per second (Gbps) of data. The sensor is capable of daytime surface-laid mine line and obstacle detection in the beach zone with off-board processing. As new sensor advancements and technologies become available for both current and future blocks, the COBRA system does not have an efficient means to test new hardware but must rely on extensive developmental data collection (flight tests) to determine the effectiveness of one complex sensor over another. Historically, data collections for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) require approximately 6 months to plan, coordinate, execute, and analyze. In addition, inadequate comparisons of sensors exist due to the six-month lag and the development of other components on the project. As a result, some sensor configurations are not compared with the same common tool set and developmental costs are high.

This topic is seeking an innovative method and system to provide real-time comparisons of the performance of new Multi-Spectral Imaging (MSI), Simultaneous Multi-Spectral Imaging (SMSI), and other future COBRA Block II sensors against a consistent baseline to reduce time and cost by comparing sensors (both same generation sensors and current generation vs future generation) without the need to collect extensive imagery data. Based on an estimate of $500,000 per data collection, savings of up to $10,000,000 will be realized for each COBRA sensor. In addition, the time associated with data collection can be reduced from 6 months to a few weeks.

Two common ways to develop sensors are through physical trial and error tests or through simulation. Ignoring the previously identified time lag and the lack of common platform, due to the delicate and expensive nature of UAVs coupled with the risks of damage to property during testing, trial and error is not a workable solution (Ref. 2). While simulation is a powerful tool, it cannot capture all real-world variables such as machine noise, actuator lag, and other factors encountered during testing. HIL simulation will merge the power of simulation with the actual physical components of the system being tested (Ref. 3). Developing a common sensor test-bed would allow all sensors to be compared against the same tool set, reduce the risk of damage to the system, but most importantly reduce the cost and time of data collection. The proposed platform should leverage existing scene generation models within COBRA.

The complete toolset can be validated through comparison to real data collections. Technical risk for the software models is low as substantial existing imagery for the MSI camera exists and will be used to validate detection of minefields and obstacles. Technical risk for the HIL is low as commercial components such as optical collimators are available and should support the camera specifications. A government approved acceptance test procedure (ATP) will be developed, used for final testing, and will be used for success metrics to include Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) and Contrast Transfer Function (CTF) measured across the Field of View (FOV). In addition, the HIL can be used to test automatic gain control and other high level system behaviors. Real imagery allows comparison of receiver response to high and low intensity scenes within a frame as well as between frames which just isn’t possible when only test patterns are used. In addition, image quality can be quantified based on National Imagery Interpretability Rating Scales (NIIRS) approach and methodology.

The proposed HIL system will be required to conform to the Navy’s Open Architecture (OA) initiative. Modular design of hardware and software components will enable openness to the Navy and other contractors. The HIL platform should be designed to support the current COBRA Block I MSI camera, the forthcoming Block I replacement camera (SMSI), and future Block II sensors. The HIL platform will allow objective comparison of multiple cameras on the same test-bed.

COBRA HIL and Software Sensor Simulator platform addresses the Navy needs such as land-based mine detection from a Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV). Additionally, the COBRA Machine Learning development effort will reduce the non-recurring engineering costs for the COBRA program while improving the overall performance and capability of the COBRA System.

PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for a COBRA HIL and Software Simulator System that meet the requirements outlined in the description. 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. Material testing and analytical modeling will establish feasibility. The Phase I Option, if awarded, should include the initial layout and capabilities description to build the unit in Phase II.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), the company will develop a HIL Development, Software Model, and Product Integration prototype for evaluation and delivery. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in Phase II SOW and the Navy requirements for the COBRA HIL and Software Simulator System. System performance will be validated at the contractor’s location with government oversight. Validation will be the comparison of the HIL simulation vs. flight test data previously collected for daytime detection of surface laid mine-lines and obstacles in the beach zone. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will be delivered to the Navy and meets Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The HIL test-bed developed according to the Phase II SOW will be tested and certified to determine its effectiveness in the COBRA program. The HIL test-bed will transition to COBRA but will be a Depot-level asset. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use. In addition to successfully transitioning HIL and Software Sensor Simulator into the COBRA program, the technology is adaptable directly to many commercial activities that have significant potential in the private sector. HIL applications include commercial photography, agriculture, and medical imaging. Attention will be given to these dual use applications as the program progresses to address potential commercial spin off opportunities.


1. The US Navy- Fact File: AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA); 16 Dec 2014;

2. Halvorsen, Hans-Petter "Hardware-in-the–Loop Simulation" Telemark University College, Department of Electrical Engineering, Information Technology and Cybernetics; 17 Jan 2012;

3. Gans N.R., Dixon W. E., Lind R., Kurdila, A, "A hardware in the loop simulation platform for vision-based control of unmanned air vehicles," Mechatronics 19 (2009) 1043–1056, 16 Mar 2015;

KEYWORDS: Multi-Spectral Imaging (MSI);Simultaneous Multi-Spectral Imaging (SMSI); Hardware In the Loop (HIL) test-bed; optical collimators; control algorithms for unmanned air vehicles UAV; vision-based control

TPOC-1: Dawn Klamser

Phone: 850-230-7148

Email: [email protected]

TPOC-2: Brian Boughen

Phone: 850-235-5780

Email: [email protected]

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