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Real-Time External Sensor Probe that is Deployed from an Underwater Vehicle


OBJECTIVE: Develop an expendable, reliable, low cost autonomous sensor probe which can be deployed from a submarine that is capable of providing real-time measurements of conductivity, temperature, and depth back to the submarine in real-time. DESCRIPTION: Accurate conductivity, temperature, and pressure information in a water column is critical to a submarine"s communication, sensing, and maneuvering capabilities. This information needs to be accurate and rapidly acquired for depth transitions as well as defining submerged operating envelopes. A real-time sensor system will greatly improve a submarine"s communication, sensing, and maneuvering capabilities especially in regions with large variations in environmental conditions, usually the result of considerable ice melt, evaporation or large temperature gradients. The current probes used onboard Navy submarines to obtain conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) information are very limited and costly. These probes do not provide information in real-time (the probes have to travel to the surface before data transmission), experience high failure rates, and cannot be autonomously launched. Although developments have been made in packaging and connectivity of sensor probes (such as the research in references 1, 2, and 3), much of the current technology is still expensive or impractical to deploy from submarines. The Navy desires an innovative solution for an expendable, reliable, low cost autonomous sensor probe that can be deployable from a submarine and capable of providing real-time measurements of conductivity, temperature, and depth data back to the submarine in real-time. Such capabilities do not currently exist or are too costly for acquisition. Novel approaches to the design and implementation of a low-cost expendable CTD sensor which will transmit data during both the ascent and descent of the probe are sought. Proposed designs should be able to meet the following goals: failure rate less than 10%; provide autonomous deployment, measurement resolution greater than or equal to 10 ft during ascent and 5 ft during descent, and digital output for interfacing with platform from which it was deployed. Furthermore, the system should have the ability to allow deployment platform to maneuver while device is profiling, operate at an ascent and descent rate greater than or equal to 10 ft/s and have a reduced production costs. PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for a real-time sensor probe that can be deployed from the OHIO Replacement Submarine Class or any back-fit of the OHIO Class that meets the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concepts can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling. The sensor probe must be able to integrate with Commercial-Off-The-Shelf conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) sensors. All concepts will be evaluated on how well they address the probe goals and how they will demonstrate feasibility through a business case analysis that must be submitted with any and all concept ideas. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that will address technical risk reduction PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a scaled prototype for evaluation as appropriate. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for the Real-Time Sensor Probe. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use. PHASE III: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The company will develop a Real-Time Sensor Probe which is deployable from the hull of a submarine for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use on OHIO Replacement and existing platforms such as SSBN, SEAWOLF, LOS ANGELES, and VIRGINIA class submarines. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The potential for commercial application and dual use should be described in sufficient detail so that a person unfamiliar with the topic can appreciate applications other than the military. Some specificity of the application and examples will help those unfamiliar with the topic to appreciate potential commercial use. This technology can be applied to commercial sectors such as drilling operations and explorations. REFERENCES: 1. Bishop, C. M."Sensor Dynamics of Autonomous Underwater Gliders,"Master Thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, May 2008. 2. Forrest, A.L. et al."Investigation of under-ice thermal structure: small AUV deployment in Pavilion Lake, BC, Canada.,"Oceans 2007. UBC, Vancouver. 3. Laval, Bernard, John S. Bird, Peter D. Helland."An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for the Study of Small Lakes."Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. 2000, 17, 6976.
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