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Passive Surf Zone Minefield Detection (PSZMD) on the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace 

OBJECTIVE: Develop a passive surf-zone minefield detection (SZMD) capability utilizing the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Block I-3 and/or COBRA Block I-4 Airborne Payload Subsystem (CAPS) to provide an incremental operational capability to the COBRA Block I System. This SBIR topic aims to develop innovative algorithms for automated SZMD using the CAPS passive imagery and image processing hardware. 

DESCRIPTION: The COBRA Block I System provides daytime detection of surface laid minefields and obstacles in the Beach Zone (BZ) through aerial multispectral imagery. The COBRA program is interested in expanding the COBRA Block I System’s operational environment to the Surf Zone (SZ). The SZ, defined as coastal water having depths less than 10 feet, is a challenging environment for target detection. The SZ presents unique image processing challenges as its optical environment tends to be vertically, horizontally, and temporally variable. Additionally, there are increased clutter variations due to breaking surface waves creating foam, bubbles, and suspended sediment along with high sediment transport rates. These artifacts, along with marine plant and animal life, complicate detection of mine-like objects in the SZ and require unique technical approaches to solve this complex problem. Compared to active imaging sensors, this topic addresses a low-cost method (i.e., passive imagery analysis) that can potentially save the COBRA Block II program more than $10M in overall development costs, more than 2 years of program schedule, additional lifecycle costs, and provide a near-term needed capability. Additionally, a passive system requires less size, weight, and power (SWaP), all of which is at a premium on the COBRA’s intended host platform. For the COBRA Block I System, the airborne payload shall not exceed a total volume of 6 cubic feet, a total weight of 189 pounds, and 1500 Watts. The COBRA Block I System’s limited SWaP demonstrates a need to consider analyzing passive SZ imagery. There are no commercial aerial multispectral imaging systems of the SZ at the required maximum COBRA Block I System’s Ground Sampling Distance (GSD) of 8.4 centimeters at not less than 20 percent contrast when sampled from a nominal altitude of 915 meters Above Ground Level for minefield analysis. GSD is the distance between pixel centers when measured on the ground. Alternative flight profiles will be considered. Other Government-funded and commercial aerial multispectral imaging systems either provide fewer bands of imagery than COBRA or lack COBRA’s sensor resolution, reducing their usefulness for SZ minefield algorithms. The proposed effort will develop innovative algorithms to process aerial SZ multi-spectral images for automated target recognition of naval mines. Algorithm performance shall meet the COBRA Block I’s BZ minefield detection performance and operational requirements in the SZ (threshold) and/or meet the COBRA Block II’s SZ minefield detection performance and operational requirements (objective). Algorithm performance will not be compared to these performance values until Phase II of the SBIR, at which time the contractor will complete a DD0254 and will be cleared to receive the information. These modular algorithms will be integrated into the COBRA Airborne Payload Subsystem (CAPS) and COBRA Post Mission Analysis (PMA) Subsystem, and potentially other flight and post-mission analysis systems as identified during the SBIR process. The algorithms will be implemented as object-oriented C++ for Central Processing Units (CPUs) and/or Open Computing Language (CL) for Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) processing and implemented as a modular software library. Processing techniques should be automated, adaptive, and amenable to real-time execution on CPU/GPU architectures. The proposed algorithms will be required to conform to the Navy’s Open Architecture (OA) initiative. Modular design of software components will enable openness to the Navy and other contractors. The Phase II effort will require secure access at the SECRET level and NAVSEA will process the DD254 to support the contractor for personnel and facility certification for secure access. If need be, data of the same level of complexity as secured data will be provided to support Phase I work. Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DSS and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract. 

PHASE I: Develop a concept for an innovative algorithm that is capable of detecting mines in the SZ using COBRA’s Block I-3 and/or Block I-4 sensor. Relevant sensor design characteristics and example COBRA multispectral imagery will be provided to Phase I contractors. Demonstrate the feasibility of the algorithm through modeling and simulation. The Phase I Option, if awarded, will include the development of the initial design specifications and capabilities description to implement the algorithm into a modular software library in Phase II compatible with COBRA real-time processor and OpenCL requirements. Develop a Phase II plan. 

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), develop and deliver prototype a modular software library to provide efficient real-time detection of naval mines in the SZ using COBRA Block I imagery. Generate a performance estimation of the developed capability to include operational impacts of environmental conditions including sea states and turbidity. Use operationally representative data for the evaluation. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Navy and potential commercial use. It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details). 

PHASE III: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use on the COBRA program by working closely with the current COBRA Block I prime contractor to integrate the technology. Further refine the software to ensure compatibility with existing mine warfare operator interfaces and workstations according to the Phase III development plan for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. Support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use. The technology developed can be applied to commercial applications including surveillance tasks, remote sensing, environmental analysis, and Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (IPOE). 


1: "AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA)." The US Navy – Fact File. Last update 17 November 2016.

2:  Witherspoon, Ned H., Holloway, John H., Jr., Davis, Kenn S., Miller, Richard W., and Dubey, A. C. "The Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Program for Minefield Detection." SPIE 2496, Detection Technologies for Mines and Minelike Targets, 500, 20 June 1995.

3:  Frouin, R., Schwindling, M., Deschamps, P. Y. "Spectral reflectance of sea foam in the visible and near-infrared: In situ measurements and Remote Sensing implications, Journal of Geophysical Research" Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 101, No. C6, pp 14,361-14,371, June 15, 1996.

4:  "The Open Standard for Parallel Programming of Heterogeneous Systems." Khronos Group.

KEYWORDS: Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance And Analysis (COBRA); Surf Zone; Mine Detection; Mine Countermeasures (MCM); Automated Target Detection; Automated Pattern Detection 


Dawn Klamser 

(850) 230-7148 

Mark Sherwood 

(850) 235-5404 

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