Sponsors: Office of Naval Research

Project Overview:

A Microbathymetric Laser Imaging System:

The submersible laser bathymetric (LBath) optical system is capable of simultaneously providing visual images and generating bathymetric maps of the sea floor with centimeter spatial and depth resolution. The system operates at roughly 10 m above the sea floor and builds a bathymetric image by taking successive swaths of the sea floor as the system moves through the water as either a towed or an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). The system has been designed with the specific purpose of remotely identifying semi-submerged mines in turbid coastal waters.

General Information:

The pulsed laser beam scans the sea floor in one dimension while being synchronously imaged by a high speed linear CCD camera. For every laser pulse generated, a linescan image of the sea floor is captured by the CCD camera providing a complete one-dimensional image of the spatial energy distribution spectrum surrounding the laser target spot. The energy distribution profile of the laser beam on the sea floor facilitates identification of the target spot position against a high backscatter contribution from in-water scattering. Bathymetric data is obtained by triangulation between the target spot, laser scanner and camera which are separated by a small distance (~0.8 m). Depth is calculated by measuring the laser beam angle and its corresponding target position imaged on the CCD. The in-line geometry of the scanner sweep and the camera field-of-view provides extended range capability.


  • Principal Investigators: Jules S. Jaffe
  • Principal Engineers: Karl Moore
  • Electrical Engineer: Ben Ochoa
  • Mechanical Engineer: Fred Ulhman – Hydrodynamic aspects, mechanical design/fabrication.
  • Software Development: Ben Ochoa – Data acquisition, instrument control, GUI
  • Graduate Students: Dave Zawada
  • Lab Assistants: Mathew Diebolt

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