Railey Kristen E.

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Kristen E.

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  • Article
    An acoustic remote sensing method for high-precision propeller rotation and speed estimation of unmanned underwater vehicles
    (Acoustical Society of America, 2020-12-23) Railey, Kristen E. ; DiBiaso, Dino ; Schmidt, Henrik
    Understanding the dominant sources of acoustic noise in unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) is important for passively tracking these platforms and for designing quieter propulsion systems. This work describes how the vehicle's propeller rotation can be passively measured by the unique high frequency acoustic signature of a brushless DC motor propulsion system and compares this method to Detection of Envelope Modulation on Noise (DEMON) measurements. First, causes of high frequency tones were determined through direct measurements of two micro-UUVs and an isolated thruster at a range of speeds. From this analysis, common and dominant features of noise were established: strong tones at the motor's pulse-width modulated frequency and its second harmonic, with sideband spacings at the propeller rotation frequency multiplied by the poles of the motor. In shallow water field experiments, measuring motor noise was a superior method to the DEMON algorithm for estimating UUV speed. In negligible currents, and when the UUV turn-per-knot ratio was known, measuring motor noise produced speed predictions within the error range of the vehicle's inertial navigation system's reported speed. These findings are applicable to other vehicles that rely on brushless DC motors and can be easily integrated into passive acoustic systems for target motion analysis.