An operational concept for correcting navigation drift during sonar surveys of the seafloor

Alan J. Hunter, Warren A Connors, Samantha Dugelay

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The accumulation of navigation errors (drift) is a problem in many applications of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), particularly during long-duration underwater surveys. Traditional methods for correcting drift require either surfacing of the vehicle for a global navigation satellite systemupdate or use of an independent acoustic positioning system. These methods may not be desirable or possible due to mission constraints. We propose a solution to this problem completely underwater and without the aid of external navigation systems. The approach is based on an operational concept that uses a modified paired-track survey pattern combined with through-the-sensor navigation corrections from a seafloor imaging sonar. We describe the operational concept, derive a model for its performance limits, validate this model, and demonstrate the concept with real experiments at sea. Using this approach, we provide an opportunity to use either coherent or incoherent through-the-sensor positioning corrections for a mission length increase of only the product of the intratrack spacing and the number of track pairs. We show results from a proof-of-principle experiment using data collected by the 300-kHz synthetic aperture sonar of the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation’s Minehunting Unmanned underwater vehicle for Shallow water Covert Littoral Expeditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-926
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number4
Early online date23 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


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