Underwater Location & Navigation Devices

KCF Technologies has developed a device to retrofit underwater vehicles and their tethers with an inexpensive yet robust sensing system to accurately predict positions relative to a surface-floating buoy or other underwater vehicle. The system derives the relative position using a robust tether-mounted sensor and a time-tracking position integrating algorithm. The key variables used to calculate the relative location are the absolute vector at several points on the tether, the depth (pressure) at specific tether points, and the time-history GPS position data. Installation requires only an external mounting bracket on the crawler, and no modification of the tether or buoy.

Funding source: US Naval Sea Systems Command SBIR N04-T020

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) are used in applications where long-term underwater operation is required. The ability to communicate rapidly while still submerged is very beneficial to UUVs. KCF Technologies has developed the Smart Tether, a tethered antenna that supports two-way RF communication and GPS reception. This product conserves power and enhances performance of the system by enabling real-time transmission of high-bandwidth data and images while the UUV remains submerged and continues to operate. Incorporating the Smart Tether technology into the antenna buoy tether provides an additional benefit of an accurate GPS position fix while the UUV remains submerged. This further extends the mission capabilities by providing a reference position fix to the inertial navigation without expending time and power to return to the surface.

Funding source: US Naval Sea Systems Command SBIR N08-194

KCF Technologies provides Smart Tether positioning for tripod sonar systems. KCF has developed an integration package which allows the Smart Tether to be used between the topside interface box and the sonar head. The Smart Tether software then calculates the position of the sonar head and supplies a live GPS position fix to the sonar software. This allows the sonar head to be easily and accurately positioned in all conditions, even if there are currents moving the head or if the head drifts relative to the GPS marker as it is deployed.

Ship hull inspection poses a challenging sensor problem for Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) missions as well as for Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies conducting Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism missions. A continued challenge with Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), UUVs, and diver-based systems is navigation to find and locate an identified threat, and it is particularly challenging to locate the ROV around a ship hull in a harbor environment. KCF Technologies’ Smart Tether can be deployed as a tether-based navigation technology for underwater bodies. The Smart Tether deploys instantly with the tether, enabling much faster deployment than existing acoustic-based technologies. Other benefits include ease-of-use, real-time update rates, and consistent operation even in noisy environments with acoustic reflections.

Funding source: US Naval Sea Systems Command SBIR N04-T020 Phase II

KCF Technologies has developed a device to retrofit underwater vehicles and their tethers with an inexpensive yet robust sensing system to accurately predict positions relative to a surface-floating buoy or other underwater vehicle. The system derives the relative position using a robust tether-mounted sensor and a time-tracking position integrating algorithm. The key variables used to calculate the relative location are the absolute vector at several points on the tether, the depth (pressure) at specific tether points, and the time-history GPS position data. Installation requires only an external mounting bracket on the crawler, and no modification of the tether or buoy.

Funding source: US Naval Sea Systems Command SBIR N04-T020

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