Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) without Navigation: Scan Registration as Basis for Near Field Synthetic Imaging in 2D
Sonars are essential for underwater sensing as they can operate over extended ranges and in poor visibility conditions. The use of a synthetic aperture is a popular approach to increase the resolution of sonars, i.e., the sonar with its N transducers is positioned at k places to generate a virtual sensor with kN transducers. The state of the art for synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) is strongly coupled to constraints, especially with respect to the trajectory of the placements and the need for
... navigation data. In this article, we introduce an approach to SAS using registration of scans from single arrays, i.e., at individual poses of arbitrary trajectories, hence avoiding the need for navigation data of conventional SAS systems. The approach is introduced here for the near field using the coherent phase information of sonar scans. A Delay and Sum (D&S) beamformer (BF) is used, which directly operates on pixel/voxel form on a Cartesian grid supporting the registration. It is shown that this pixel/voxel-based registration and the coherent processing of several scans forming a synthetic aperture yields substantial improvements of the image resolution. The experimental evaluation is done with an advanced simulation tool generating realistic 2D sonar array data, i.e., with simulations of a linear 1D antenna reconstructing 2D images. For the image registration of the raw sonar scans, a robust implementation of a spectral method is presented. Furthermore, analyses with respect to the trajectories of the sensor locations are provided to remedy possible grating lobes due to the gaping positions of the transmitter devices.