Penn State researchers to help enable UUVs to navigate by following ocean-bottom terrain

ARLINGTON, Va.-Researchers at Penn State University in University Park, Pa., are designing a sonar-based underwater navigation system for the U.S. Navy that will enable unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and submarines to navigate and maintain position underwater safely by following known terrain.

This technology, called bathymetric navigation with sonar, matches sonar images of terrain below the undersea vehicle to known terrain maps of the ocean bottom.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., awarded a $1.2 million contract to the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State for the Broadband Navigation Sonar System program, which seeks to develop a bathymetric underwater navigation device, which could be applicable to submarines, UUVs, and other subsurface vessels.

Penn State researchers will help UUVs navigate by following known terrain features on the ocean bottom.
Penn State researchers will help UUVs navigate by following known terrain features on the ocean bottom.

The contract is part of an ONR research solicitation issued in 2010 entitled Navigation and Timekeeping Technology, which seeks to develop affordable and reliable precision navigation and timing systems for situations in which the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation network is not available-such as when operating underwater.

The lack of precise navigation and timekeeping technologies as alternatives to GPS may jeopardize the success of military operations.

The ONR Navigation and Timekeeping Technology program seeks to develop new navigation technologies that will provide more accurate, reliable, maintainable, and affordable systems for UUVs, naval aircraft, surface warships, submarines, and fixed-site installations in the absence of GPS signals.

The non-GPS Navigation Technology component of the program-for which the Penn State Applied Research Laboratory won this contract-seeks to develop a small, portable quantum physics-based gravimeter/accelerometer for underwater navigation; a bathymetric underwater navigation device by sonar and light detection and ranging; and precise navigation in littoral subsurface/surface navigation using sensors such as sonar, radar, and lidar.

FOR MORE INFORMATION visit www.arl.psu.edu.


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