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DARPA研发类似于GPS的水下导航系统

五角大楼和BAE公司正在合作开发下一代水下导航技术,用来确定矿山,发现敌方潜艇和监视作战目标。

“深海定位导航系统”(POSYDON),综合运用水下声波信号、水面浮标、水下信标或节点、GPS信号,能够快速的确定水下执行任务的无人系统的位置坐标,并将数据传输回水面舰艇或潜艇的指挥控制系统。

DARPA研发类似于GPS的水下导航系统

POSYDON目前正在进行第一阶段的研发工作,由美国高级研究计划局(DARPA)和BAE等公司合作完成。

DARPA的研发者称,POSYDON能够在大洋中提供实时、连续和稳定的定位信息。通过布放少量的可远距离传播的声源系统,水下平台不再需要定期上浮接收GPS信号即可获得连续、高精度的导航信息。

虽然专家说有些非常低频的无线电能在海面下传输某种信号,但潜艇需要浮出水面获取强的无线电频率或GPS信号,以获得现场数据和通讯。

DARPA战略技术办公室项目经理Lin Haas在最新发布的播客中说,你能在非常浅的深度接收GPS,但这不是我们的相关操作。POSYDON为水下使用者带来了‘类GPS’的能力。”

军事学家和技术开发人员把在“GPS失效”的环境中导航的努力称作是一种获得“精确,导航和时机”的方式。

Haas解释道,尽管如此,类似于GPS在地表的运作的海底无缝导航仍然具有巨大的科学挑战。

Undersea BAE Systems

GPS信号同算法一起工作,这些算法能够通过光速和光的传播时间计算一个物体的距离。如果光传播的距离是确定的,连同信号的传播速度,算法可以很快地确定精确距离,从而识别一个物体。

例如,雷达系统的电磁信号,或者武器的激光测距仪所发出的激光,可以使用光速和其传播时间来快速地确定物体的方位,形状或者速度。

Haas解释道,但是在海面下使用声频信号来确定距离要复杂得多

Haas说,“对于GPS而言光速是常数。但水底的声速并不是这样的。水底信号的传播速度同很多因素相关,其中起主要作用的是水底温度和海水盐度。我们已经开发出适用于所有这些水下声学信号的模型。水下信号并不仅仅以直线传播。”

因此,在发射器和接收器间的声频信号并不是线性传播。

Haas补充道,“声频信号会有多种传播路径;信号在不同的温度和压强区域间发生折射。算法可以改善现有模型和开发新模型。”

因此,水下无人机能使用声波来传播实时信息回潜艇。

DARPA办公室说,BAE,雷声BBN和DARPA实验室都在开展POSYDON的工作。

BAE海军系统和技术主管Geoff Edelson说,“GPS信号在海面反射并且不能穿透海水。POSYDON的重要性在于确保这些UUV(无人的水下传播媒介)能真正专注于他们的任务而不用周期性地浮出水面让GPS计算出它们确切在哪儿。”

Edelson解释道,这种技术依赖于一种“三角测量”。卫星发出的GPS信号被发送到一个表面节点,表面节点然后使用声波连接和定位海底无人机。

Edelson说道,“许多信号不会在海底传播。光不能传播得很远,而射频信号并不真正在海底传播。通过使用POSYDON,GPS信号被低频声波信号取代。”

POSYDON计划分三个阶段实现,目前正在第一阶段向前推进;据DARPA描述,第一阶段涉及模拟信号传播渠道,第二阶段打算开发一个单独波形,而第三阶段的目的是建立一个完整的原型定位系统。

submarine

Edelson说道,“现在我们正在分析数据,以确保这个概念是有价值的。我们打算‘点对点’从源到一个或两个接收器来传播。”

这种技术虽然在近几年可能仍离实际操作使用较远,但它的出现完全符合美国海军水下无人机的策略。海底无人机正变得越来越关键,用于抗击新兴的高科技水面和水下威胁,例如潜在对手正在开发的静音器,更先进的潜艇技术和武器。

DARPA研发类似于GPS的水下导航系统

UUV能够更好地传播信息回主机平台,并迅速提供位置数据,可以自然地协助定位敌方目标,海底矿山和其他同海军任务具有至关重要相关性的目标。

POSYDON技术,一旦可以实际操作,可以同现有工作平台如波滑翔机一起工作,旨在收集目标和威胁信息,以及海洋水文信息。

例如,被称为Seaglider的一种当前水下无人机使用浮力和翅膀实现向前运动,而不是一个电动螺旋桨。很长一段时间它能够收集海洋数据,如水体温度或盐度,收集数据,然后将它寄回。

新兴的POSYDON技术也对维吉尼亚级攻击潜艇和哥伦比亚级弹道导弹潜艇有很大帮助,建立导航参数,进行目标识别,甚至在更大的距离上精确定位威胁来源。

事实上,海军现在正在试验一种海底无人机,它能够从潜艇导弹管发射和返回,提高任务效率和加快启动和恢复操作。因此,能够准确地在一个特定区域操作识别UUV的位置将是很有价值的。

考虑到大部分的技术依赖于快速发展的算法,人工智能(AI)领域的快速发展是很重要的。

这种趋势最终将可能导致更多的人工智能的使用,在将数据提供给人类的指挥官之前,利用更加独立、电脑驱动的无人系统收集、组织和整合大量不同的信息和传感器数据。

seaglider

高级海军官员解释道,水下无人机群很快就会同时使用声纳和不同的传感器来识别和摧毁敌人的潜艇和水面舰艇,寻找矿山,收集海洋数据和执行侦察任务,这些同时只由一个人在一艘海军舰艇或潜艇上来发出命令和控制操作。

在距离远远超出了正常的检测范围情况下,可能几个潜射水下机器人或远程无人水下交通工具就能够识别有威胁的敌方潜艇或表面舰船。

这个想法是为了利用计算机处理速度的增加和自主车载软件的快速发展。这将允许无人系统以更高的自主权快速操作,作为一个集成网络的一部分协作并行,并更快地执行更广泛的操作而不需要每一个单独的任务都由人类来控制。这项策略也旨在使潜艇、水面舰艇和一些地面操作利用这些快速发展的计算机技术。

也许一些小型无人机可以发出声平,然后分析返回信号以确定有威胁的敌方目标的位置,为潜艇提供必要的数据来以一个安全的距离发射重量级精确制导鱼雷摧毁敌方威胁。

海军高级官员解释道,集成无人机群可以立即将相关数据传送到水下或舰载计算系统和传感器。因此,人类的指挥官可以更快速和高效地访问相关信息,并拥有一个更大的窗口来做出重要决策。

DARPA Discovers "GPS-Like" undersea drone connectivity

By Kris Osborn

The Pentagon’s research entity and BAE Systems are working together to develop a next-generation undersea drone communications technology to help identify mines, find enemy submarines and surveil many items relevant to combat missions。

Using underwater acoustic signals, a surface buoy, beacon or “node,” and GPS signals in a coordinated fashion, the Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation (POSYDON) is able to quickly relay location coordinates from undersea drones on patrol to command and control systems on board a ship or submarine。

The program, now in a Phase I developmental effort, is a collaborative enterprise between industry and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)。

POSYDON provides “omnipresent, robust positioning across ocean basins。 By ranging to a small number of long-range acoustic sources, an undersea platform would be able to obtain continuous, accurate positioning without surfacing for a GPS fix,” DARPA developers explained。

While experts say there are some very low-frequency radios that can transmit some kind of signal undersea, submarines need to surface in order to achieve a strong radio frequency (RF) or GPS signal for on-the-spot data and communications.

“You can receive GPS at very shallow depths, but that is not relevant to where we operate。 POSYDON brings a ‘GPS-like’ capability to submerged users,” said Lin Haas, program manager for the DARPA Strategic Technology Office, in a newly released agency podcast。

Military scientists and technology developers refer to the effort to establish connectivity in a “GPS-denied” environment as acquiring “precision, navigation and timing.”

However, the scientific challenges of bringing seamless connectivity undersea, similar to the way GPS functions on the surface, are substantial, Haas explained。

GPS signals work with algorithms able to compute the distance of an object by knowing the constant or “fixed” speed of light and the time of travel. If the length of travel is identified, along with the speed of a signal, then algorithms can quickly determine a precise distance, therefore identifying an object.

For example, an electromagnetic signal used by a radar system -- or laser from a weapon’s laser rangefinder -- would use the known speed of light, and time of travel, to quickly identify the location, shape or speed of an object。

However, with acoustic signals undersea, determining distance is much more complex, Haas explained。

“For GPS the speed of light is constant. That is not the case for underwater speed of sound. Underwater signals are a function of many things, primarily temperature and salinity. We have developed models that account for all these acoustic signals underwater. Underwater signals don’t travel in a single line,” Haas said.

As a result, there is no linear transmission from transmitter to receiver with acoustic signals.

“Acoustic signals will take many paths; the signal is refracted through temperature and pressure profiles. Algorithms can improve current models and develop new modes,” Haas added.

Therefore, underwater drones can use acoustic waves to relay real-time info back to submarines.

DARPA officials say BAE Systems, Raytheon BBN and Draper Laboratory are all working on the POSYDON program.

“GPS signals bounce off ocean surfaces and cannot penetrate seawater. The importance of POSYDON is to make sure that these UUVs [unmanned underwater vehicles] can really focus on their missions without having to periodically come to the surface for GPS to figure out exactly where they are,” said Geoff Edelson, director of Maritime Systems and Technology at BAE Systems.

The technology relies upon a kind of “triangulation,” Edelson explained。 A GPS signal emerging from a satellite is sent to a surface node -- which then uses acoustic waves to connect with and locate an undersea drone。

“Many signals do not propagate under the sea. Light cannot travel very far and RF signals do not really propagate under the sea. With POSYDON, a GPS signal is replaced by low-frequency acoustic signals,” Edelson said.

The POSYDON effort is progressing through Phase I of a three-phased effort; Phase I involves modeling signal propagation channels, Phase II is intended to develop a single waveform and Phase III is aimed at building a complete prototype positioning system, according to DARPA

“Right now we are analyzing data to ensure the concept has merit. We are going ‘point to point’ from a source to one or two receivers,” Edelson said.

The emergence of this technology, which is still likely several years away from operational use, is entirely consistent with the Navy’s undersea drone strategy. Undersea drones are increasingly critical countering emerging high-tech surface and sub-surface threats such as quieter, more advanced submarine technology and weapons being developed by potential adversaries.

UUVs that are better able to transmit information back to host platforms, and quickly provide their location data, can naturally assist in locating enemy targets, undersea mines and other items of critical relevance to Navy missions.

POSYDON technology, once operational, could work with existing platforms, such as Wave Gliders, designed to collect target and threat information, as well as oceanographic and hydrographic information。

For instance, a current underwater drone called the Seaglider uses buoyancy and wings to achieve forward motion as opposed to an electrically driven propeller. For long periods of time it is able to gather oceanographic data, such as water column temperature or salinity, collecting the data and then sending it back.

Emerging POSYDON technology could also be of great use to Virginia-class attack submarines and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines working to establish navigational parameters, identify objects of interest and even pinpoint threat locations at greater distances.

In fact, the Navy is now experimenting with undersea drones that are able to launch and return from submarine missile tubes, improving mission efficiency and expediting launch and recovery operations. Therefore, being able to precisely identify the location of operational UUVs in a given area of operations would be of great value.

Given that much of the technology relies upon fast-developing algorithms, rapid progress in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) is important to this effort.

This trajectory will ultimately likely lead to the use of more AI, drawing upon more independent, computer-driven unmanned systems to gather, organize and integrate a vast array of different information and sensor data before providing it to human commanders。

Groups of undersea drones will soon simultaneously use sonar and different sensors to identify and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, search for mines, collect oceanographic data and conduct reconnaissance missions -- all while a single human performs command and control functions aboard a Navy ship or submarine, senior Navy officials explained.

Perhaps several submarine-launched underwater robots or large-displacement unmanned undersea vehicles could identify a threatening enemy submarine or surface vessel at distances far beyond the normal detection range.

The idea is to capitalize upon the increasing speed of computer processing and rapid improvements in the development of autonomous vehicle software. This will allow unmanned systems to quickly operate with an improved level of autonomy, function together as part of an integrated network, and more quickly perform a wider range of functions without needing every individual task controlled by humans. The strategy is also aimed at enabling submarines, surface ships and some land-based operations to take advantage of these fast-emerging computer technologies.

Perhaps a number of small drones could send out an acoustic ping and then analyze the return signal to pinpoint the location of a threatening enemy target, providing a submarine with the necessary data to launch a precision-guided heavyweight torpedo to destroy the threat from a safer distance。

Integrated drone groups would then instantly relay pertinent data to underwater or ship-board computing systems and sensors. As a result, humans in a command and control function would have access to relevant information faster and more efficiently, providing a larger window with which to make critical decisions, senior Navy officials explained.

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