FarSounder's Technology Blog

From time to time, FarSounder's development team likes to toot their own horn and tell the world about some of the cool things they are working on. We can't share all our secrets and development plans, but we can share some of the excitement that our engineers experience every day working for FarSounder.

November 11, 2016
Local History Mapping with FLS

To date, FarSounder’s 3D FLS products have operated purely as real time navigation and obstacle avoidance sonars. Our user interface software includes an overlay of the real time sonar imagery on top of a standard nautical chart. However, since the early days of our development, we have always believed that storing the sonar data and building a bathymetric history would be a valuable capability.

November 1, 2016
Chart overlay of look ahead sonar
FarSounder forward looking navigation sonars are unlike any other sonar on the market. Our sonars generate a complete 3D image ahead of the vessel at navigationally significant ranges with each and every ping. Because our technology differs from all other sonar products, we try to be very straightforward and clear about what our products can and cannot do. The purpose of this posting is to highlight the unique capabilities that users can expect from our navigation products as well as outline the general installation and interfacing requirements.
April 4, 2016
Icebreaker Fennica - Marcus Bengtsson/Creative Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Marcusroos
In today’s world of instant communications, constant connectivity, and virtual reality, it is easy to forget that there are still vast expanses of our world that are undiscovered and unknown. Polar regions make up much of that vast unknown. Yet in the past few years, the number of vessel excursions into these areas is increasing steeply. Shipping, tourism, oil exploration, science, and EEZ expansion are all driving this surge. With this surge comes increased risk of navigational hazards as many of the “classic” navigation tools (recent surveys, stable buoys and channel markers, and good gps coverage) are not available or practical in these areas.
March 28, 2016
detecting hazards with Forward Looking Sonar
As presented at Oceans 2015 in Washington D.C. - This paper describes research to determine the effectiveness of forward-looking sonar as a means to safely navigate vessels in frontiers such as the Arctic and other regions that may be lacking recent or comprehensive hydrographic survey. Key elements of this investigation include the range at which valid measurements may be taken, uncertainty in measurement, confidence level of the measured value and resolution available to detect underwater hazards affixed to the bottom and suspended within the water column to provide time sufficient to enable the crew to take action to alter course and/or speed to avoid casualty. An additional factor involves examining forward-looking sonar measurements as a means to survey shallow sea bottom where hydrography data does not exist or is not accurate, potentially offering a valuable resource to supplement scarce national hydrographic office assets to accomplish this task. An assessment of viability is also made regarding compliance with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) standards for hydrographic surveys that form the basis for soundings that appear on navigation charts.
November 11, 2015
We recently announced the integration of our navigation sonars into the newest Wärtsilä SAM Electronics NACOS Platinum Integrated Bridge System. Now that the first of these integrated systems has been installed for a customer, we’d like to share some more details about how we fit into their system.
September 10, 2015
True Target Motion™ Visualization
Improving the situational awareness of obstacles below the sea surface is the reason we developed our 3D forward looking sonars. True Target Motion™ is our latest innovation for improving upon that awareness. This new software feature combines inputs from the ship’s heading and gps sensors with our navigation sonar data to animate the movement of detected sonar targets relative to the vessel between each ping. Without True Target Motion™ the position of each sonar target can only be updated once every ping. Now, target positions are updated as the vessel moves between pings.
August 20, 2015
Dual Navigation Sonar
Forward looking sonars significantly add to a ship's situational awareness when moving forward. But what about when the vessel is moving astern? With more and more yachts, workboats, expedition class passenger vessels, and arctic explorers being outfit with azimuth thrusters and advanced DP, larger vessels are finding their way into tight places with a need to back up. If you need an obstacle avoidance sonar to make your way in, sometimes you need one to make your way out - especially with the reduced situational awareness of the bridge facing forward and the vessel running astern.
March 16, 2015
expanded chart overlay
Early in FarSounder’s development, we added a raster chart display to help our engineers correlate what we saw in the sonar display with what was in the real world. The raster chart display evolved to a vector chart display. Soon after that, we started displaying in-water targets on top of the chart. Now, with the release of SonaSoft 3.0, our software includes an expanded overlay with the complete 3D sonar image. The seafloor and in-water targets are shown with the same colors as the 3D Sonar Display as an overlay on top of the chart data. Many users will find that the C-Map Chart Display will become their primary display rather than the 3D Sonar Display since it shows a more complete situational awareness with both chart and sonar data.
March 13, 2015
Look Ma, No Hands! - used under creative commons license: https://www.flickr.com/photos/29233640@N07/7762799686
One of the exciting characteristics of our 3D FLS products is that with each release of our software we unleash more and more of the sonar sensor hardware’s full potential. This means that our performance and capabilities will continue to get even better via software updates without requiring new sensor hardware. Over the past year, the FarSounder engineering team has been focusing on improving our automated sonar processing algorithms and image quality. We’re excited to announce our next generation auto-squelch and bottom detection algorithms.
March 10, 2015
FarSounder's New Color Scale
With the launch of SonaSoft 3.0, we’ve decided to make a paradigm shift in how we display our sonar data. Previously, our software always used a colormap based on jet (a.k.a “rainbow”) for both depth and signal level color mapping. Not only did this prevent displaying depth and signal level information in a single display, the colormap itself was not optimal. We now use two separate colormaps for depth and signal level. A multi-color, uniform luminance gradient colormap is used to indicate depth while an orange-copper colormap is used to indicate signal level.