Navy needs electro-optical situational
awareness aboard surface warships
BY John Keller
ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. Navy researchers
are surveying industry to find companies able to blend coarse-resolution
and high-resolution electro-optical
imaging technologies for enhanced
wide-area situational awareness
aboard Navy surface warships.
Officials of the Office of Naval
Research in Arlington, Va., issued
a sources-sought notice (N00014-
17-RFI-0005) for the Panoramic
Imaging for Situational Awareness
and Target Recognition project.
Researchers are trying to blend
coarse- and high-resolution imagery from passive sensors such as
long-, mid-, and short-wave infrared (SWIR) detectors, perhaps even
passive millimeter wave technology,
to help ship crews quickly detect,
locate, and defend against surface
and airborne threats such as fast-at-tack boats and anti-ship missiles.
Navy experts not only are interested in blending coarse- and
high-resolution imagery, but also
in blending data from different
kinds of sensors to make the most
of target detection in clouds, dust,
fog, and rain.
For this project, Navy experts are
focusing on a field of view measuring 20 degrees below the horizon of
a surface ship, to 30 degrees above
the ship’s horizon. The object is to
make the most efficient use possible of sensors and signal-process-ing, yet still meet the Navy’s situa-tional-awareness requirements for
Today, the U.S. Navy uses two
different approaches to shipboard
situational awareness with electro-
optical sensors: medium resolution
and coarse resolution.
Medium resolution of around
80-microradian instantaneous field
of view imaging sensors can see to
50 degrees above the horizon, and
can provide 360-degree coverage.
Coarse-resolution sensors of around
100 to 200 microradian instantaneous field of view can work quickly
enough to detect fast-moving threats.
Cues from coast-resolution sensors can steer high-resolution sensors with narrow fields of view video-frame-rate imaging sensors to
help recognize, identify, track, and
gauge the intent of nearby threats.
Each has its drawbacks. Medium-resolution imaging sensors reduce
the revisit rate for detected targets,
can miss fast-moving targets, and
generate too many false alarms.
Coarse-resolution sensors maintain situational awareness at frame
rates fast enough to track fast-moving targets, deal with clutter, and
reduce false-alarm rates, yet are not
effective in the presence of targets
numbering in the tens or hundreds.
This approach also has latency
issues as the high-resolution imager
slews from one contact to another.
Instead, Navy researchers are
asking industry for unconventional
approaches, such as one that provides a coarse-resolution staring
mode for situational awareness,
while simultaneously under software control providing more than
100 regions that obtain high-resolution and video-frame-rate images.
These regions also should be able
to be steered dynamically without
mechanical motion to follow objects
By providing high resolution only
over regions of interest, such a sys-
tem will minimize the data transfer
bandwidth as well as size, weight,
power consumption, and cost
(SWaP-C) of the overall system.
This project also seeks to iden-
tify a family of imaging systems that
could handle the situational-aware-
ness needs of surface vessels ranging
in size from a patrol craft, a frigate, a
destroyer, and an aircraft carrier.
Navy researchers are looking for
information from industry that is
grounded in sound physical princi-
ples, and that is consistent with tech-
nology-development roadmaps in
optics, focal plane arrays, and image
processing hardware and algorithms.
E-mail responses in .pdf for-
mat no later than 6 Oct. 2017 to
the Navy’s Ravi Athale at ravindra.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Panoramic
Imaging for Situational Awareness”
in the subject line. E-mail questions
or concerns to Ravi Athale at ravin-
MORE INFORMATION IS online at
The Navy is trying to blend coarse-resolution
and high-resolution imaging for enhanced
wide-area situational awareness aboard Navy