Synthetic Aperture Sonar Motion Estimation and Compensation
Cook, Daniel A.
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Synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) is the underwater acoustic counterpart to stripmap-mode synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Current seagoing SAS systems are deployed on unmanned robotic vechicles, commonly referred to as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). As with SAR, SAS imaging is ideally done with a straight-line collection trajectory. However, SAS is far more susceptible to image degradation caused by the actual sensor trajectory deviating from a pefectly straight line. Unwanted motion is virtually unavoidable in the sea due to the influence of currents and wave action. In order to construct a perfectly-focused SAS image the motion must either be constrained to within one-eighth of a wavelength over the synthetic aperture, or it must be measured with the same degree of accuracy and then accounted for in the processing software. Since the former is not possible, the latter approach must be taken. The technique known as redundant phase centers (RPC) has proven to be insrumental in solving the problem of SAS motion compensation. In essence, RPC simply refers to the practice of overlapping a portion of the receiver array from one ping (transmission and reception) to the next. The signals observed by this overlapping portion will be identical except for a time shift proportional to the relative motion between pings. The time shifts observed by the RPC channels of the receiver array are scalars representing the projection of the array receiver locations onto the image slant plane, and these time shifts can be used to compensate for the unwanted platform motion. This thesis presents several extensions to the standard RPC technique in which the RPC time delays are combined with the AUV's on-board navigation data. The scalar time delays are decomposed into the components induced by the six degrees of freedom of the motion: i.e., the linear and angular velocities. Thus, the time delays observed in the image slant plane can be used to refine the motion estimate in an absolute frame of reference external to the AUV. Creating a high-resolution SAS image of the sea floor in an automatic fashion demands accurate and robust motion estimation. The performance of the motion estimation schemes presented is demonstrated using actual field data collected from an assortment of current research SAS systems.