SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  SB072-040 (DARPA)
Title:  Unmanned Underwater Riverine Craft (UURC)
Research & Technical Areas:  Ground/Sea Vehicles

Acquisition Program:  
 The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b.(7) of the solicitation.
  Objective:  Identify and develop innovative technology to enable development of an unmanned underwater vehicle that can penetrate and transit underwater in riverine and shallow water coastal environments and carry out surveillance/reconnaissance and deployment tasks in denied, sensitive or contested areas.
  Description:  There is an operational need to carry out clandestine surveillance tasks in riverine and shallow water environments. For these, a UURC is needed with capabilities to: navigate submerged in rivers, inlets, and harbors as well as in coastal and shallow water areas; provide persistence in these areas and, provide underwater surveillance (against waterborne traffic, underwater obstacles, bottom and buried objects, specific vessels of interest) with onboard and deployable sensors under low visibility conditions. Be capable of autonomous operation and evasion procedures underwater (maneuver, burrowing, use of obscurants, hibernation mode) including bottom conditions such as in mud and sand particulate, weed beds and rock strata. Communicate surveillance and positional data back to the remote operators; and be deployable by air-drop, surface launch and subsurface launch. The UURC potential surveillance payloads include: acoustic sensors, magnetic sensors, NBC sensor, tracking devices, EO/IR Periscope, side-scan sonar. Deployable payloads include surveillance and listening devices, tagging devices and other packages. Key mobility attributes will include a long endurance underwater powerplant (possibly including regeneration), accurate depth (buoyancy control) and directional control, accurate positional and obstruction sensing and avoidance for operating in low visibility, confined, and trafficked waters, and remote controllability. New methods of sensing including new ambiance systems, touch, heat sensitive and acoustic devices will be needed for controlled bottom movement. A capability for bottom locomotion (crawling) is potentially beneficial in many applications and may be complementary to propelled motion for area positioning. The UURC will be required to operate in areas of tidal rise and fall and in current flows. Covertness of the vehicle and sensors is important for successful use of the system in many expected scenarios and systems for avoidance such as river/sea floor burrowing. It is further desirable for the vehicle to have the ability to regenerate or harvest power for sustained endurance operation or to be able to enter a “sleep” mode for sustained periods pending planned recovery. Specific technical challenges include: Situational awareness (navigation, route planning, current/tidal effects, obstacle detection), precision vehicle control, very low detectability, efficient power systems (propulsion engine, energy storage, hibernation and energy harvesting), buoyancy control or sea/riverbed locomotion, surveillance sensors and payload deployment, and communication strategies involving data to and from the vehicle.

  PHASE I: Identify various UURC enabling and/or critical technologies that support persistent underwater surveillance/reconnaissance missions in riverine and other shallow water operational environments. Define technical concepts and provide analysis to support performance projections and current maturity. Assess their feasibility and investigate how they contribute to the overall operational capability and mission effectiveness of the UURC.
  PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate the critical technologies identified in Phase I.

  PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The technology developed under this SBIR can be used in military and civilian commercial unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). There is a civil need for UUVs that can carry out near-bottom search scans with underwater sensors and bottom-penetrating sensors for object detection and underwater topography.

  References:  1) Fletcher, B. “UUV Master Plan: A Vision for Navy UUV Development” Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. 2) Johnson, E. UNMANNED UNDERSEA VEHICLES AND GUIDED MISSILE SUBMARINES: Technological and Operational Synergies Occasional Paper No. 27 Center for Strategy and Technology Air War College Air University Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. February, 2002

Keywords:  Underwater, Riverrine, Shallow-water, Persistence, Covert, Surveillance, Submerged, Obstacle Avoidance and Visually Obscured Submerged Environments.

Additional Information, Corrections, References, etc:
Ref #1: Available through interlibrary loan or online document delivery services.
Ref #2: Available through interlibrary loan or online document delivery services.

Questions and Answers:
Q: 1. I understand that no classified information should be submitted in our proposal, but given the topic area and the ITAR restriction, do you anticipate that this project might also at some point in Phase I or Phase II require a secret-level security clearance?

2. Are there any security classification guidelines that might be relevant to this topic?

3. With the ITAR restriction in the solicitation, I assume that there will be an export control imposed on the Phase I contract. What research functions by a foreign national would disqualify a proposal?
A: 1. It is possible that aspects of this work may be classified in later programs.
2. Not presently, the efforts under this SBIR program are unclassified.
3. ITAR restrictions apply to this SBIR and it is anticipated that foreign nationals would need to be appropriately qualified (green card
Q: During the Phase 1 effort, will researchers be able to review existing and past classified technologies in order to better focus the research?
A: "There is no intention to do this. It is a new effort and solicits new ideas based on the needs for operating in shallow water environments. Mission sets are not yet defined and revolutionary capabilities are considered to be the point of entry into Unmanned Underwater Riverine Craft (UURC)."
Q: Is the intent to address all technical challenges in each proposal or will each technical challenge be addressed individually in separate proposals?
A: Awards will be made where individual technologies appear to hold promise of providing leveraging capability. These are likely to be discrete technology excursions and may contribute to an eventual integrated approach.
Q: By shallow water environments what depth are you referring to?
A: Nominally, 25 feet. But this is not rigid since ingress to shallow areas is an aspect of possible interest, as is the influence of water current or surface effects (waves) or tidal effects on depth.

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