ONR seeks greater R&D for undersea intelligence

The Office of Naval Research is continuing its push toward greater unmanned underwater capabilities, calling for white papers and proposals for “technologies to enable advanced maritime surveillance and response capabilities.”

With the primary objective described as conducting applied research and advanced technology toward undersea systems for autonomous detection of targets and for communications, ONR wants to engage the scientific and technology community, encourage dialogue and provide a planned timetable for white paper submissions.

The Navy has put a lot of emphasis on developing unmanned underwater vehicles and other systems, even talking aboutan underwater network analogous to the interstate highway system. But the oceans pose a challenge that doesn’t exist for unmanned aircraft, ground vehicles or surface vessels—communications through water are difficult, so sensors, navigational signals and command and control systems don’t work as well.

ONR is looking for capabilities for autonomously detecting, tracking, localizing and identifying a radiating source with high confidence, along with algorithms and methods that can perform in complex and realistic environments. These environments include cluttered open-ocean, seabed and port or harbor areas.

More specifically, research areas of interest under this focus include multi-modal sensor fusion, feature extraction, and feature aggregation, detection, classification, along with semantic inference and computational efficiency for employment within tactical network constraints.

ONR maintains that command, control and communications undersea has proved challenging. Research into movement of information between tactical nodes and shore sites, transition of information from undersea through air-sea interface and autonomous optimization of C3 will help ONR to overcome challenges in this domain. Among several interests within C3, ONR listed:

a) Undersea networking technology including acoustic, electro-optical, or other means by which to communicate between multiple undersea nodes in real-time or near-real-time.

b) Technology, methods, or specialized protocols enabling undersea, node-to-node communication for the purpose of field awareness, management, and convergence of field information

c) Technology and/or solutions enabling remote, human interface and control of undersea nodes in real-time or near-real-time.

d) Technologies enabling the exfiltration of relevant data types from undersea nodes including video and imagery to remote sites either directly or by use of a gateway (i.e., air-sea interface system).

e) Technologies enabling the transfer of information from undersea nodes through the air-sea interface either directly or by use of a gateway.

f) Technologies enabling autonomy of undersea nodes (whether static or mobile) to form a network.

g) For all focus areas a through f above, there is additional interest in the following areas of concern:

  1. Information Security (InfoSec) including both Data at Rest (DAR) and communications security
  2. Low power, high efficiency communications technology and solutions
  3. Small form factor communications and technology solutions
  4. Extended endurance communications and technology solutions
  5. Low Probability of Detection (LPD) communications and technology solutions

Responses are due Mar. 22, 2016.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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