The world beneath the surface of our oceans has long been shrouded in mystery and intrigue. However, thanks to advancements in technology, a new era of underwater exploration and mapping has dawned. At the forefront of this revolution is the rapidly growing market of Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) systems. SAS systems are transforming the way we explore and understand the underwater world, revolutionizing underwater mapping and imaging with their unparalleled capabilities. In this article, we will delve into the booming SAS systems market and explore how they are revolutionizing underwater mapping and imaging.
Understanding Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS)
SOund Navigation And Ranging or SONAR is a technique of distance measuring between detector and an object base on sound reflection. The distance can be calculated from propagation time and speed of sound in specific mediums. For military, Sonars are the eyes and ears of ships or submarines in water used to detect, locate and identify objects in water. They are used for underwater navigation, especially by submarines and surveillance. Sonar systems can also be used to realign inertial navigation systems by identifying known ocean floor features.
One of the evolutions of modern sonar is synthetic aperture sonar (SAS), which allows for much higher resolution images than traditional sonar by combining different acoustic pings. Active synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) is a powerful imaging technique that coherently combines echoes from multiple pings along the trajectory of a survey path to construct a long virtual array of hydrophones, which are microphones designed to be used underwater for recording or listening to underwater sound.
A synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) is a form of sonar that creates an image from echoes, unlike conventional beam-scanning sonars that work by moving a single transducer to sweep the area. In SAS systems multiple stationary beams are transmitted in parallel either from one point on land or from one vessel and as the platform moves new images can be created by processing each individual echo return with some form of motion compensation algorithm – this process effectively enhances resolution along narrow strips known as “apertures”.
Because the azimuth resolution of a Radar or Sonar is governed by the size of its aperture in wavelengths, Synthetic Apertures offer resolutions far exceeding those of physical arrays. Unlike conventional sonar systems SAS also offers constant along-track resolution independent of range.
SAS is a challenging technique because platform motion must be measured to within a few hundred microns over the length of the Synthetic Aperture. Such measurement is beyond the capabilities of Inertial Navigation Systems consequently acoustic micronavigation techniques are typically employed. SAS also places very high demands on the fidelity of the sonar system and requires huge processing power.
SAS technology has potential in many underwater imaging applications including offshore energy, seabed surveying, marine archaeology, debris mapping and search and salvage operations. Synthetic aperture sonar mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle can be efficient tool for deep ocean mapping of seafloor massive sulfide deposits generated by hydrothermal systemssuch deposits. The fine resolution and large areal coverage possible with SAS enables highly efficient mapping of the seabed with a resolution sufficient to determine the location of active and extinct hydrothermal systems.
For in-depth understanding on SAS technology and applications please visit: Synthetic Aperture Sonar: Principles, Techniques, and Applications
Low-Frequency Synthetic Aperture Sonar (LFSAS) is an active sonar system that uses the low-frequency band with ultra-wide bandwidth, also known as Chirp. The data collected by LFCSAS is used for target classification and movement tracking in tactical operations, mine warfare reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, and anti-submarine warfare.
Medium frequency (MF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies in the range of 300 kHz–3000 kHz. The band is known as the myriameter band or myriametre band since wavelengths range from ten to one myriameter (an obsolete metric unit equal to 0.001 km). Frequencies immediately below MF are denoted low frequency (LF), while the first band of higher frequencies is known as high frequency (HF).
High-frequency synthetic aperture sonars are able to provide much higher-resolution images of the seabed. They do this by transmitting a series of closely spaced, very short pulses down to the seabed or through it and then reassembling them in order to form an image with extremely high detail. The number of individual beams per pulse makes little difference but instead what matters is how many times each beam can be transmitted before its position becomes too vague for useful processing.
Unleashing Unprecedented Resolution and Detail:
One of the key factors driving the rapid growth of the SAS systems market is the unprecedented resolution and detail these systems offer. Unlike traditional sonar systems, SAS uses a combination of advanced signal processing algorithms and motion compensation techniques to create high-resolution images of the seafloor and underwater targets. This level of detail enables researchers, scientists, and industries to gain precise insights into underwater features, such as underwater topography, marine habitats, and even archaeological sites.
Enabling Greater Coverage and Efficiency:
SAS systems also excel in their ability to provide wider coverage and increased efficiency compared to traditional sonar systems. With the ability to collect data over large swaths of the seafloor, SAS enables efficient mapping and imaging of vast underwater areas in a fraction of the time. This capability is particularly valuable for applications such as offshore infrastructure inspection, underwater resource exploration, and environmental monitoring.
Advancements in Technology:
The exponential growth of the SAS systems market can be attributed to ongoing advancements in technology. Transducer design and manufacturing have seen significant improvements, leading to higher frequency operation and enhanced imaging capabilities. Coupled with sophisticated signal processing algorithms and motion compensation techniques, SAS systems are becoming more accurate, reliable, and user-friendly. These advancements are driving the market’s expansion and making SAS systems more accessible to a broader range of industries and applications.
Diverse Applications and Industries:
The versatility of SAS systems has opened up a wide range of applications across various industries. In the field of underwater archaeology, SAS systems have revolutionized the exploration and documentation of submerged cultural heritage, enabling archaeologists to uncover and preserve historical treasures hidden beneath the depths. In industries such as offshore energy, underwater infrastructure inspection, and environmental monitoring, SAS systems are improving efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing safety by providing detailed and accurate data for decision-making.
Global Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) Systems Market
The global Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) Systems Market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.3% from 2023 to 2030. The growth of the market is being driven by the increasing demand for SAS systems in the military and defense, offshore oil and gas exploration, oceanography, and marine biology industries.
Here are some of the factors that are driving the growth of the SAS Systems Market:
- Increasing demand for SAS systems in the military and defense industry. SAS systems are used for a variety of applications in the military, such as submarine detection, mine detection, and underwater mapping.
- Growing demand for SAS systems in the offshore oil and gas exploration industry. SAS systems are used to map the seafloor and identify potential oil and gas deposits.
- Increasing demand for SAS systems in the oceanography and marine biology industries. SAS systems are used to study the ocean environment and marine life.
Some of the challenges that the SAS Systems Market is facing include:
- High cost of SAS systems. SAS systems are expensive to develop and deploy.
- Limited availability of SAS systems. There are a limited number of companies that manufacture SAS systems.
- Lack of skilled personnel. There is a shortage of skilled personnel who can operate and maintain SAS systems.
On the basis of Application, the market is segmented into Commercial and Military & Defense.
The use of and China Synthetic Aperture Sonar Systems in Commercial is for underwater surveillance. These systems are used to monitor the movement of submarines, ships, and other marine vessels which may pose a threat or danger to commercial operations.
Military & Defense:
The Synthetic Aperture Sonar System is used in the military and defense for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) offers greater resolution and higher area coverage rates when compared with legacy Side Scan Sonar, and hence serves as an option for mine countermeasure (MCM) operations.
On the basis of Region, the market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Rest of the World. North America is further divided into the U.S., Canada, and Mexico; while Asia-Pacific countries are China, Japan, India, and the Rest of the APAC region. The Latin American region is one of the most promising regions in the world, with several opportunities for market players. It has huge potential to grow due to its large population and young workforce. This stimulates the growth of various industries which results in high demand for synthetic aperture sonar systems across different application areas such as defense, commercial, etc. As of 2021, the European region has been continuously expanding its market share in terms of revenue. The key factors for this growth include high investment in R&D by players and increasing defense expenditure. Furthermore, rising demand from the commercial sector is expected to open new avenues for vendors over the next few years.
Key Companies include Kongsberg Maritime, Kraken Sonar Systems Inc., Mitcham Industries,Inc., IXBlue, T-SEA Marine Technology Co., Ltd., Atlas Elektronik, Northrop Grumman, Leonardo DRS, Thales, Kongsberg Maritime
Future Directions and Opportunities:
As the SAS systems market continues to boom, several future directions and opportunities are on the horizon. Integration with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) will enable autonomous mapping and imaging operations, expanding the capabilities of SAS systems further. Furthermore, advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques will enhance automated data analysis, target detection, and classification, making SAS systems even more intelligent and efficient.
The Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) systems market is witnessing remarkable growth, revolutionizing underwater mapping and imaging capabilities. With their unprecedented resolution, wider coverage, and improved efficiency, SAS systems are driving advancements in various industries, including underwater archaeology, offshore energy, and environmental monitoring. As technology continues to evolve and new applications emerge, the potential of SAS systems in unlocking the secrets of the underwater world is boundless. The future looks promising as SAS systems continue to revolutionize how we explore and understand the mysteries that lie beneath the waves.
Oct 2022: Kraken Receives $1.1 Million of Contracts for AquaPix® Synthetic Aperture Sonar Systems. Kraken’s AquaPix® is an off the shelf, configurable SAS that replaces high end sidescan systems at an affordable price, while delivering higher resolution, range, and area coverage rates (ACR). The increased range, resolution and associated higher ACR of SAS over traditional Side Scan Sonar systems significantly expand the capabilities of naval, scientific, and commercial applications. Kraken’s AquaPix® is capable of 2 cm x 2 cm Ultra High-Definition SAS imaging at long ranges. AquaPix® is uniquely positioned within the industry to bring this capability to the increasingly popular small, man-portable vehicle class. AquaPix® is modular and has been integrated and deployed on over 20 different underwater vehicle platforms from shallow water to full ocean depth. Kraken’s SAS is modular and versatile, demonstrated by being one of only two companies in the world that has sold and integrated SAS into small man portable vehicles, towed systems and deep water vehicles.
Oct 2022: Picotech Ltd Launches World’s Smallest Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS)
PicoSAS is ideally suited to littoral mine countermeasures (MCM) and unexploded ordinance (UXO) applications onboard autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated towed vehicles (ROTVs).
DESIGN: PicoSAS is the lowest Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) AUV SAS on the market.
PROCESSING: State-of-the-art massively parallel processor capable of simultaneously processing SAS, MOAS and MBES data.
IMAGING: Images with optical-like quality and 18mm x 18mm resolution.
Dec 2022: Kraken’s MINSAS system chosen for HII’s medium class UUV
Kraken Robotics’ AquaPix Miniature Synthetic Aperture Sonar (MINSAS) system has been chosen for HII’s new REMUS 620 Medium Class UUV as the standard payload offering. The company’s SAS products have been integrated to HII’s uncrewed systems range of small, medium and large AUVs, providing several opportunities to boost the Mine Hunting and MCM capabilities for several NATO nations.
MINSAS’s system design makes it suitable match for the REMUS 620’s modular payload and battery architecture given that it can provide both 60 cm and 120 cm array offerings as per customer’s requirements, thereby creating room for extra sensor or battery payloads as required.
The system is also claimed to offer out-of-the-box high-resolution, real-time onboard beamforming that supports embedded ATR, and smart autonomy features such as dynamic mission re-tasking as per the identification of contacts.
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