National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

FarSounder, Inc., the world leader in 3D forward looking sonar technology, announced that it has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for work to develop a long range/high speed navigation and obstacle avoidance sonar.

In order to improve the efficiency and safety of marine cargo transport, FarSounder plans to develop a forward looking navigation and collision avoidance sonar system, providing real-time 3-dimensional location (bearing, range, depth) of obstacles at distances up to 3.2km (2 miles) for vessels traveling at up to 65 km/hr (35 knots). This project opens up new possibilities in marine navigation by addressing the economic, safety and environmental problems associated with large vessel operations.

This sonar would improve the efficiency, profitability, and safety of commercial marine shipping by allowing for faster operation through more direct transit routes, with reduced risk of groundings or collisions with floating objects. Negative environmental impacts associated with accidents involving shipment of hazardous cargo could also be reduced significantly. This technology is also applicable to the cruise industry and high-speed passenger ferries where it would provide greater passenger safety and reduce insurance costs. In addition, growing concerns regarding marine mammal mitigation could be alleviated by using this technology.

This 2.75 year, $2M project will develop a sonar system capable of detecting obstacles at a distance sufficient for large and/or high speed vessels to effectively navigate to avoid obstacles. There is no other technology capable of providing navigation and obstacle avoidance information out to these significant distances and speeds. There are none that are even capable of competing with FarSounder's existing short range, low speed products. Development of such a system will be an immense advancement in marine technology, navigational efficiency, and safety.

The project requires important technological innovations, including the development of high-speed signal processing algorithms to compensate for the ship's motion, the changing acoustic environment and background noise at high speeds and development of other signal processing methodologies which would extend the state of the art for sonar signal processing. Based on industry trends, FarSounder estimates that when fully deployed such a system could reap economic benefits of up to $500 million a year through increased efficiency, reduced insurance costs, and reduced accident rates, in addition to the benefits of increased passenger safety and reduced environmental damage

Used on commercial, government and private ships for obstacle avoidance and shallow water navigation, FarSounder FS-3 sonars are capable of generating a complete 3-dimensional image of the sea floor and in-water objects at navigationally significant ranges with a single ping. They offer visualization of a clear, easy to understand 3D sonar image. This advanced sonar technology revolutionizes marine navigation, especially in shallow areas. FarSounder's technology is also appropriate for security and defense applications.

The NIST Advanced Technology Program provides cost-shared funding to industry-led teams to help advance particularly challenging, high-risk R&D projects that have the potential to spark important, broad-based economic or social benefits for the United States. The program supports projects that industry cannot fully fund on its own because of significant technical risks. ATP awards are made on the basis of rigorous, competitive peer review of the scientific and technical merit of each proposal. The program accelerates enabling technology research, but does not support product development work.

FarSounder, Inc.
Jo-Ann Aldsworth +1-401-784-6700;

NIST Public and Business Affairs Division
Michael Baum +1-301-975-2763;