Demonstration of Passive Acoustic Detection and Tracking of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles

Kristen Railey, S.M., 2018
Henrik Schmidt, Advisor

In terms of national security, the advancement of unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) technology has transformed UUVs from tools for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to autonomous platforms that can perform complex tasks like tracking submarines, jamming, and smart mining. Today, they play a major role in asymmetric warfare, as UUVs have attributes that are desirable for less established navies. They are covert, easy to deploy, low-cost, and low-risk to personnel. The concern of protecting against UUVs of malicious intent is that existing infrastructure on ships, harbors, and submarines falls short in detecting, tracking, and preventing the vehicles from causing harm. Addressing this gap in technology, this thesis is the first to demonstrate and quantify passively detecting and tracking UUVs in realistic environments strictly from the vehicle's self-generated noise. This work contributes the first power spectral density estimate of an underway micro-UUV, detecting a UUV with energy thresholding and spectral filters in field experiments, and tracking a UUV using conventional and adaptive beamforming on a line array in field experiments. This work can be implemented into existing passive acoustic surveillance systems and be applied to larger UUVs, which potentially have louder identifying acoustic signatures.