Autonomous Imaging Ultrasound System for Underwater Inspection of Ship Hulls
Navy requirements have motivated the need for technologies capable of performing detailed scans over large areas of a ship"s hull for hidden defects. Existing technologies for identifying hull defects underwater primarily involve point measurements of the hull thickness. Applying this technique to a large hull, such as an aircraft carrier"s, can be extremely time consuming and has limited effectiveness, potentially leading to significant defects being missed by the inspection. We propose an ultrasound-based imaging approach that will allow for near-100% inspection of the submerged portion of a ship"s hull with a high level of detection accuracy. The imaging system will be mounted on an autonomous vehicle that will move about the ship"s hull collecting ultrasound image data and processing it to generate hull-plate thickness image data over a majority of the submerged surface of the hull. This approach will minimize manpower and turnaround time for inspections, and significantly increase inspection accuracy. In Phase I, we will develop a detailed design concept for our autonomous imaging ultrasound system, and we will prototype and test the core ultrasound components of the system. In Phase II, we will fabricate and test a full prototype system suitable for laboratory testing and future field trials.
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