Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Monterey Bay 2006 field experiments MB2006 Monterey Bay 06 MB06
Background Links for UPS experiment
(Underwater Persistent Surveillence)


One of the main parts of the UPS experiment is the Persistent Littoral Underwater Surveillance program (PLUSNet). The following links describe the PLUSNet program:

About the UPS experiment

The UPS experiment involves monitoring central coast waters using extremely sensitive underwater microphones, electromagnetic sensors, and other oceanographic instruments. Some of these instruments will be mounted on the seafloor; others will be carried by robot submarines such as gliders and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The instruments will be used as a system to monitor the ocean environment and to track the many research vessels that will be traversing Central Coast waters during the MB 06 experiment. This will help researchers understand how ocean layers and currents affect the transmission of sounds and electrical and magnetic signals generated by ships (as well as by marine mammals and submarines).

The Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance Network (PLUSNet) project is a three-year, competitively-awarded program funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance (PLUS) program. PLUS seeks to apply innovative and emerging technologies to demonstrate new methods for conducting Naval surveillance. These technologies include:

1. Mobile and persistent surveillance using new undersea vehicles and deployment techniques.
2. Improved directional sensitivity using innovative undersea sensors
3. Adaptive feedback using adaptive ocean sampling, modeling, and forecasting
4. Autonomous detection, classification, localization and tracking (DCLT) of underwater signals with minimal human input.

The PLUSNet project involves a multi-organizational team of researchers from universities, industry, and Navy labs who are experts in the surveillance technologies above. During MB 06, these researchers will test a network of mobile and fixed sensors to see how well they work for undersea surveillance. Such surveillance systems must be able to operate in complex shallow water environments with complex acoustics and high levels of noise from commercial shipping, fishing, marine animals, and weather. They must also be able to operate passively, listening for signals of interest for months at a time in remote parts of the ocean.

Previous Navy surveillance field tests have used such sensors on the seafloor. However, recent technological advances allow these sensors to be carried on underwater vehicles such as gliders and AUVs. By carrying sensors on multiple vehicles, the surveillance system can be made more adaptable and reliable, especially if sensors on different vehicles can communicate with one another. This can be a big advantage in working in a complex and constantly changing coastal marine environment.

The UPS experiment will be testing new techniques for:

  • Deploying both bottom-mounted and mobile sensors
  • Communicating between sensors using sound and radio waves,
  • Monitoring the health and status of the sensors themselves
  • Continuous environmental monitoring
  • Modifying the numbers and positions of the sensors as necessary to get the most useful data or to replace sensors that have failed.

This proces will involve the use of a combination of undersea technologies, including:

  • Fixed sensors (which could be sensors on undersea robots that are stationary on the seafloor or drifting), including sensitive hydrophones oriented vertically and horizontally to detect sounds coming from different directoins, as well as other environmental sensors
  • Mobile environmental and tactical sensors such as hydrophones or electromagnetic sensors towed by ships or mounted on ship hulls
  • Semi-autonomous command, control and communication systems that reduce the likelihood of false alarms by classifying and localizing targets, as well as by using acoustic communications that have a low probability of being intercepted.
  • Environmental sensing and prediction systems for optimizing sensor configuration and cooperative detection, classification, and localization.
  • Connectivity via electromagnetic transmissions from mobile nodes and the use of new high frequency radio communication methods between distant parts of the surveillance field.

Some of the specific goals of PLUSNet during the Monterey Bay 2006 experiment include:

  • Deploy and operate the sensors as the distributed network.
  • Demonstrate acoustic and radio-frequency communications that can support the operation of a distributed network of sensors.
  • Reconfigure the network based on environmental and tactical inputs, on command from a network-and-field-control (NAFCON) system.
  • Reconfigure the network to reconnect with sensors based on contact reports (possibly simulated) from the field sensors, on command from a network-and-field-control (NAFCON) system.
  • Conduct adaptive environmental sampling, populate a data base in real time, and use that data to predict the environment to improve sensor performance, make use of environmental transport, and reduce energy use.
  • Demonstrate in-cluster collaborative operation between mobile nodes.
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Last updated: Feb. 06, 2009