SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  N102-182 (Navy)
Title:  Compact, lightweight Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) with robust navigation and range for riverine reconnaissance
Research & Technical Areas:  Ground/Sea Vehicles, Sensors, Battlespace

Acquisition Program:  Oceanographer of the Navy, PMS-NSW or PMS-403; Organic Mine Countermeasures
  Objective:  Design, develop, and demonstrate an inexpensive, compact, lightweight UUV system capable of conducting reconnaissance missions delivering bathymetric and river current surveys, and navigation map of riverine environment for safe high-speed transit by a surface craft. Notional requirements are: baseline cost less than $10,000; weight less than 10 lbs; range greater than 30 miles; navigation and mapping error sufficiently low to ensure safe high-speed transit of follow-on surface craft.
  Description:  Forces operating in shallow riverine environment require knowledge of river bathymetry and currents for safe and rapid transit. Operations in such environment require reconnaissance missions of autonomous vehicles that are affordable, compact, and lightweight. There are already a number of UUVs developed and deployed for the ASW and MCM missions, however their cost, size, and capabilities are not necessarily compatible with the riverine operations. For safe transit, the riverine reconnaissance mission requires relatively moderate resolution bottom mapping and the river current mapping capabilities. To maximize survey coverage, the vehicle should operate just below the water surface. Innovations are required in utilizing low-cost components to achieve the necessary navigation accuracies and environmental mapping capabilities. Innovative control algorithm and hull form design are required, and efficient use of the propulsion and the power source are necessary for swimming against or with river current to achieve the required reconnaissance range. Concepts and capabilities are solicited that provide an extremely low-cost, compact, light-weight autonomous UUV capable of providing maps of bathymetry and surface current.

  PHASE I: Navigation, mapping, propulsion components, hull form design, control algorithm and a system design will be proposed to achieve the objective requirements. Component level and system level modeling and analyses are to be conducted to justify the proposed design and system integration. The design analyses should focus on feasibility of any new proposed concept of low cost component/software integration for higher overall system performance. Risk analysis in both component and system levels are to be conducted to identify high risk subsystems/algorithms, and appropriate risk mitigation strategies are to be developed for Phase II.
  PHASE II: A fully demonstrated set of prototypes will be produced in Phase II. Test and analysis will document UUV performance with respect to the stated objectives as well as performance limitations in laboratory and operationally realistic environments. In addition to operational performance issues, the Phase II efforts should address such reliability, manufacturability, toughness, and operator interface.

  PHASE III: Proposer will develop an acquisition-ready UUV system description that meets well defined navigation and safe operation guidelines. Full manufacturing documentation will allow rapid production to occur with the vendor team. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/

  DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Commercial production and distribution of man-portable UUVs parallels Navy interests. Primary applications in the near-term will address environmental baselining, monitoring, and change detection seasonally and in response to incremental or episodic events. Communities, ports, and resource management entities are likely the first customers, and their requirements for navigation accuracy, safe operation, and economical updates will be similar to the Navy requirements.

  References:   1) The Navy Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Master Plan, 2004: ( 2) Autonomous Vehicles in Support of Naval Operations: Naval Studies Board, National Academies Press, 2005: (

Keywords:  UUV; navigation; man-portable; unmanned undersea vehicle; bathymetry

Questions and Answers:
Q: 10 pounds total weight is this correct?
With a range greater than 30 miles upstream?
A: Yes those numbers are correct.
Q: What is the maximum expected current?
A: Typical surface currents may range from 0 to 2 knots, but it varies depending on the river, tides, and seasons.
Q: 1. Do the authors imagine that such vehicle will incorporate a DVL for navigation? Most underwater SLAM solutions require odometry from a DVL, but current models weigh more that the 10 lbs listed as the desired vehicle weight.

2. Does this mean a successful navigation scheme would be both GPS and DVL denied?

3. Finally, is there a target cost for such a platform?
A: 1 & 2. DVL is one way, but the choice of sensor or methodologies is open, and we have no specific preference on sensors or systems.

3. Economy will be considered in the evaluation of proposals, but there is no target cost we want to post.
Q: Is the 30 mile upstream range in nautical or statute miles?
A: Statute miles.

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