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Shallow Water Surveying Using Experimental Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Sonar

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This paper describes an interferometric synthetic aperture sonar system based on an unmanned surface vehicle customized for shallow water environments. Synthetic aperture sonar enables imagery of high resolution that is independent of range by using the displacement of the sonar platform to create a large virtual array. If two geometrically displaced images are obtained, the construction of three-dimensional topographic maps is possible through the use of interferometric techniques. The use of an unmanned surface vehicle presents several advantages that alleviate some problems related to the formation of synthetic aperture images, which are mainly related to the fact that a precise navigation system can be used for the boat control and sonar imagery motion compensation. Also, a small unmanned surface vehicle is advantageous in terms of cost of operation, maintenance and ease of deployment. Mapping of shallow water areas is an important task for many commercial and scientific applications like river navigability, infrastructure maintenance and natural resource monitoring. These tasks can be done efficiently with this system. Sample data obtained during test trials illustrate how synthetic aperture can be used to generate underwater imagery and bathymetric data.
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Keywords: height mapping; interferometry; sonar; synthetic aperture; unmanned surface vehicle

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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