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Acoustic Sensors for Unmanned Air Vehicles


The Technology

Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) perform a wide variety of intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions on the modern battlefield and in an increasing array of civilian applications.

SARA pioneered the development of acoustic sensors for UAV applications. Our Low Cost Scout UAV Acoustic System (LOSAS) technology consists of an array of four lightweight acoustic probes and a custom-designed digital-signal processor. The acoustic probes’ proprietary windscreen technology and mounts remove the effects of wind noise and platform vibration.

The 3 x 5 inch digital signal processor board performs all acoustic filtering; detection, location, and tracking of targets. The signal processor interfaces with the UAV flight control system to gather GPS location and aircraft attitude data to estimate geographic location of targets. It sends data directly to the operator’s ground station through the existing UAV data downlink.

The LOSAS system weighs just 250g and consumes about 7 watts of 6-volt DC power. It has been integrated on a number of small gas-engine UAVs and demonstrated in-flight vehicle detection ranges of up to 2 km.

It combines UAV data with intelligence information on a geo-registered, interactive mission map to provide battlefield situational awareness.

SARA’s Scout UAV Simulation/Ground Station software provides system development, operator training, and mission control/data display tools for the LOSAS user.

UAV mounted sensors
LOSAS sensors have been integrated on small gas-engine UAVs.

The Applications

  • SARA’s LOSAS sensors provide wide area detection of acoustic sources such as heavy vehicles, aircraft, and weapons fire.
  • Acoustic sensors can be used to direct the UAV to fly over an acoustic source or cue a gimbaled camera to identify a target.
  • They can also detect hostile fire directed at the UAV, locate its source, and allow the UAV to be repositioned.

The Advantages

  • LOSAS sensors provide wide area detection of acoustic sources (heavy vehicles, aircraft, and weapons fire) and can be used to cue the EO/IR camera or the RBCI system.
  • The sensors permit monitoring of approach ground or air vehicles and impulsive events (small arms fire, mortars, artillery, explosions) from all directions, day or night, in dust or fog and under camouflage.
  • They can detect operating vehicles or other sound sources, determine their location, and send detection data to the UAV operator to map the battlefield more rapidly and with more confidence than narrow field-of-view imaging sensors allow.
  • LOSAS is light (250 g) and efficient (consumes 7 watts of 6-volt DC power).