In recent decades, imaging sonar has been the most widely employed remote sensing instruments in the field of underwater detection. The multibeam echo sounder (MBES) plays an important role in obtaining high-accuracy seabed topography. However, the resolution of the MBES substantially decreases with the increasing distance. Synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) achieves constant resolution on the along-track, improving the fineness of the image. However, conventional side-scan SAS usually only achieves 2D images, and gaps always exist. In this modeling and experimental research paper, we propose a novel underwater acoustic imaging scheme to improve the imaging performance of MBES, based on the complementarity of MBES and SAS systems. We design a 2D transducer array to increase the detection efficiency and obtain spatial gain. Moreover, the processing scheme is analyzed to design the working parameters in actual engineering applications. We exploit a target echo simulation approach to establish the research basics of the imaging algorithms, which also reflects the shapes and shadows of targets to match actual situations as realistically as possible. The proposed imaging algorithm synthesizes a virtual aperture receiving array on the along-track and reserves the multi-element manifold on the across-track. This helps to improve the imaging quality of the MBES and achieves high-resolution 3D detection with no gaps. Simulation and tank experimental results demonstrate that the proposed scheme can significantly improve the detection ability of the MBES, especially for small 3D target detection, thus making it suitable for 3D high-resolution underwater detection applications.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited