Kraken Awarded $0.5 Million Contract under Canada’s Defence Innovation Research Program (DIRP)
Funding for Development of Low Frequency Ultra-Wideband Synthetic Aperture Sonar
ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland, Jan. 08, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Kraken Robotics Inc. (TSX-V: PNG) (OTCQB: KRKNF) (“Kraken” or the “Company”), is pleased to announce that its wholly owned subsidiary, Kraken Robotic Systems Inc., has been awarded a $568,000 contract via a competitive Call for Proposal (CFP) solicitation posted on buyandsell.gc.ca, by Public Works and Procurement Canada under the Defence Innovation Research Program (DIRP) Call 3. The DIRP supports Canada’s long-term commitment to respond to the scientific and technological needs of the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. The objective of Kraken’s DIRP contract is to develop a low frequency, ultra-wideband Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) for use in underwater operational environments.
Karl Kenny, Kraken’s President & CEO said, “This contract award further supports development of the AquaPix® Multispectral SAS that we announced in May 2018. Kraken’s AquaPix® Multispectral SAS will be the world’s first commercial SAS to operate over such a wide acoustic spectrum, ranging from low audible frequencies to high ultrasonic frequencies. The three notable benefits of this new technology are 1) Significantly extended search range with ultra-high definition imagery and bathymetry; 2) Sub-bottom 3D volumetric imaging (i.e. finding objects buried beneath the seafloor); and 3) Increased speed and accuracy for seabed classification and characterization. Commercial availability is expected in 2019. Pricing for a complete system, including downward and dual side looking arrays with real time sonar signal processing and 3D mapping engine is expected to be under US$1 million.”
Dr. Jeremy Dillon, Kraken’s Chief Scientist said, “We are pleased to be awarded this DIRP contract. This development will leverage Kraken’s world-leading expertise in sonar signal processing and GPU-accelerated real-time processing. The Kraken team includes recently hired Dr. Richard Charron, an expert in sonar performance modeling, low frequency acoustics and 3D sub-bottom imaging. In contrast with high frequency sonars that are only capable of resolving the external shape of a target, low frequency waves penetrate the target and excite structural modes in a way that provides a unique signature for different types of objects. Kraken’s Multispectral SAS will provide a richer set of classification features for target recognition and machine learning applications, thereby reducing the false alarm rate in cluttered environments.”
Dr. Alan Hunter, an internationally recognized SAS expert, is also collaborating with Kraken on the development. Dr. Hunter said, “Kraken’s AquaPix® Multispectral SAS will provide an exciting new capability for high definition mapping and understanding the seafloor. By analyzing the relationships between acoustic signals scattered at different frequencies and aspects, it will be possible to infer the material properties of the seafloor and the objects resting upon it. Furthermore, the lower frequencies will penetrate the seabed to reveal buried features and objects to reveal their internal structures. The lower frequencies will also enable longer detection range when the Multispectral SAS is deployed in deeper waters and operated in a side-looking configuration.”
A Technology Revolution – From Conventional Sonar to SAS to Multispectral SAS
SAS is a powerful imaging technique that coherently combines echoes from multiple acoustic pings along the trajectory of an underwater vehicle to construct a “synthesized” sonar array. When synthetic aperture techniques are applied at sufficiently low acoustic frequencies, a modest-sized SAS can generate imagery with a constant azimuth resolution comparable to that of higher frequency sonar systems, but with significantly longer range. SAS systems are now being fielded in a wide range of military and commercial applications including underwater surveys, habitat mapping, oil and gas, environmental monitoring, marine archaeology, inspection of submerged structures, searching for downed aircraft and naval mine countermeasures.
Multispectral satellite and airborne remote sensing, acquiring data from the electromagnetic spectrum, has enabled scientists to map terrestrial features for many years. However, the limited penetration of electromagnetic radiation through seawater renders satellite and airborne remote sensing impractical for mapping the seafloor in all but the shallowest of waters. In practice, acoustic remote sensing systems are required to map the ocean floor.
Over the past number of years, multibeam sonar systems have come to dominate the world of marine survey. However, to meet the competing needs of range performance versus resolution, most of these systems only operate at a single frequency (or a very narrow band of frequencies) at any one time. As a result, the seabed and volume scattering products are essentially monochromatic and are typically displayed as a single colour image, representing a single data point for each bottom location. In contrast, Kraken’s AquaPix® Multispectral SAS will collect multispectral data at several frequency bands widely spaced from 5 kHz to 200 kHz. The broadband SAS provides much more data with significantly improved range and resolution.
Benthic Habitat Mapping
The development of Kraken’s AquaPix® Multispectral SAS is an exciting and innovative opportunity to improve the way that seafloor geology and benthic habitats are mapped. Combining multiple frequencies in this way offers opportunities for improved habitat discrimination and classification. The application of broadband multispectral backscatter in acoustic remote sensing offers significant advantages and the benefits of this approach to seafloor mapping are potentially ground-breaking.
Deep Sea Exploration & Exploitation
Other uses for multispectral SAS relate to the study of hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbon seeps. The importance of understanding these interactions is growing due to the the potential damage from oil and gas extraction, seabed mining and bottom trawling. As deep-sea mining of hydrothermal vents becomes a reality, many questions remain regarding the dynamics of these ecosystems. Having observations of the same seafloor at different acoustic wavelengths allows for increased discriminatory power in seabed classification and characterization efforts. The development of sonar systems with multispectral backscatter capabilities provides a significant opportunity to improve the way that scientists segment, classify and map seafloor geology.
Naval Mine Countermeasures
Naval mines are a threat that will be present in the future, and therefore, new sonar technologies are needed to detect and classify these weapons.
Designed to improve target detection, increase area coverage rate and reduce false contacts, Kraken’s AquaPix® Multispectral SAS will operate over a wide range of wavelengths and aspects: where centimeter-scale wavelengths are used for fine-detail imaging of the seabed and small objects that lay proud on it; and longer wavelengths, which can propagate deeper into the sediment volume, are used for imaging and analysis of buried objects.
Kraken’s AquaPix® Multispectral SAS is the first commercial ultra-wideband sonar that combines techniques for high-resolution imaging and target analysis, automated target recognition and seabed change detection and advanced autonomy via situational awareness provided to the host platform by the sensor.
ABOUT KRAKEN ROBOTICS INC.
Kraken Robotics Inc. (TSX.V:PNG) (OTCQB: KRKNF) is a marine technology company that is dedicated to the production and sale of software-centric sensors and underwater robotic systems. The company is headquartered in St. John’s, Newfoundland with offices in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Toronto, Ontario; Bremen and Rostock Germany; and Boston, Massachusetts. Kraken is ranked as a Top 100 marine technology company by Marine Technology Reporter. For more information, please visit www.krakenrobotics.com, www.krakenrobotik.de, www.krakenpower.de. Find us on social media on Twitter (@krakenrobotics), Facebook (@krakenroboticsinc) and LinkedIn.
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