Marine Sonar Firm Seeks Homeland Security Funds

Providence-based FarSounder Inc. has been asked to submit proposals for the second phase of a project that could garner the marine navigation technology company Department of Homeland Security funding for its work.

The project focuses on protecting infrastructure from underwater threats, taking the company's navigation technology and applying it to threat detection, said FarSounder CEO and President Cheryl Zimmerman.

The request for the company to submit a proposal for the second phase of the project follows a successful demonstration at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Zimmerman said. The first phase of the project asked the company to demonstrate that its 3-D sonar technology was capable of detecting swimmer-sized targets.

In the demonstration, a diver was viewed using FarSounder's sonar technology, proving itself as a concept for a future threat-detection system.

Through the development of the technology, Zimmerman said the company is aiming to create a commercially viable, affordable product that could protect ports, critical waterside infrastructure and other key areas along shorelines, including liquefied natural gas terminals.
The system would provide the first underwater port security system for use in all American ports, the company said in a press release.

While FarSounder's technology was previously capable of detecting obstacles, the project had the company coming up with a way to detect the difference between objects.

The technology, FS-3 COTS sonar, is capable of generating 3-D images of the seafloor with a "single ping," according to information provided by the company, with a special ability to create clear images in narrow waters.

Competing for Department of Homeland Security Small Business Innovation Research funding, Zimmerman said FarSounder could be awarded as much as $750,000 if the company is successful.