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Autonomous Detection of Near-Surface Marine Mammals

Description:

 
 

PROPOSALS ACCEPTED: Phase I and DP2. Please see the 16.2 DoD Program Solicitation and the DARPA 16.2 Direct to Phase II Instructions for DP2 requirements and proposal instructions.

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground/Sea Vehicles, Sensors

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a reliable autonomous methodology to detect, localize and identify presence of marine mammals from transiting surface ships at ranges up to 1,000 yards. Investigate and validate the necessary combination of sensors, software and computing to achieve this desired objective.

DESCRIPTION: Under the provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and as good stewards of the natural environment, it is incumbent on all U.S. mariners, including operators of DoD vessels, to avoid strikes and “near misses” of whales and other mammalian species. Current methods of performing this task primarily rely on human watchstanders using binoculars. This is less than ideal even in conditions of good visibility, since humans are subject to fatigue and inattention, and marine mammals may only surface for fleeting periods of time. In conditions of poor visibility, the potential for overlooking presence of mammals increases. It is possible that automated solutions, either instead of or in addition to human observers, may be more effective than current methods.

This SBIR seeks to derive innovative marine mammal detection solutions to establish autonomous means of:

 

• Marine mammal identification to abate vessel strike of transiting ships

 

• Marine mammal mitigation zones around each vessel using sonar

 

• Reducing inherent human error for accurate detection of marine mammals

PHASE I: Determine technical feasibility of detecting and identifying marine mammals from a transiting surface ship using best-of-breed sensors and processing. Investigate available spectrum of most-effective active and passive sensors to discriminate a marine mammal from other natural sea clutter.

Determine the technical feasibility of automating the detection and identification of marine mammals using the detection methodology specified above.Determine the technical feasibility of automating the detection and identification of marine mammals using the detection methodology specified above.

Phase I deliverables shall include analysis of alternatives of sensor(s) detection methodology with recommended solution. Additional deliverable is analytical (algorithm development) approach and study to achieve autonomous and reliable marine mammal detection and identification.

PHASE II: Finalize Phase I deliverables into an engineering design, including software development plan. Demonstrate and validate detection and identification of marine mammals from a transiting surface ship using Phase I-derived sensor(s) and processing.

Phase II performance metrics shall be achieved through construction of engineering prototype sensor(s) suite to collect specific data required to validate marine mammal detection and identification algorithms.

The complex sensor-processing Phase II solution shall demonstrate the ability to discriminate a marine mammal from other natural sea clutter.

Phase II deliverables shall include refined analysis methodology with recommended Phase III demonstration. Additional deliverable is analytical (algorithm development) approach and study to achieve autonomous and reliable marine mammal detection and identification.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The sensor system and software developed in this topic could be packaged to provide a marine mammal warning and avoidance system for commercial vessels, reducing the incidence of marine mammal strikes and near misses, aiding commercial operators in their obligations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

REFERENCES:

  • The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 as Amended.

KEYWORDS: Autonomous, Detection, Marine Mammals, Sensor, Processing

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