An automated framework for long-range acoustic positioning of autonomous underwater vehicles

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An automated method was developed to align underwater acoustic receptions at various depths and ranges to a single reference prediction of long range acoustic arrival structure as it evolves with range in order to determine source-receiver range. Acoustic receptions collected by four autonomous underwater vehicles deployed in the Philippine Sea as part of an ocean acoustic propagation experiment were used to demonstrate the method. The arrivals were measured in the upper 1000 m of the ocean at ranges up to 700 km from five moored, low frequency broadband acoustic tomography sources. Acoustic arrival time structure for pulse compressed signals at long ranges is relatively stable, yet real ocean variability presents challenges in acoustic arrival matching. The automated method takes advantage of simple projections of the measured structure onto the model space that represents all possible pairings of measured peaks to predicted eigenrays and minimizes the average travel-time offset across selected pairings. Compared to ranging results obtained by manual acoustic arrival matching, 93% of the automatically-obtained range estimates were within 75 m of the manually-obtained range estimates. Least squares residuals from positioning estimates using the automatically-obtained ranges with a fault detection scheme were 55 m root-mean-square.

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Journal of the Acoustical Society of America