Many active and former US military installations include underwater sites that are contaminated with munitions. To understand this hazard and to guide remedial action, improved survey tools are needed to assess the locations of munitions and their condition. The objective of this effort is to develop an Optical Munition Detector (OMD) that uses optical imaging techniques to detect and classify munitions underwater. The OMD is designed to close operational gaps with existing remedial investigation technologies. The specific objective of this project is to design, fabricate, and demonstrate a proof-of-concept OMD.

Technical Approach

The OMD uses optical imaging techniques to survey the bottom of the water column, extracting information (high-resolution, three-dimensional (3D) topology, optical contrast, and color) useful for munition detection and classification. In particular, the OMD creates 3D topology via two mature and complementary optical metrology techniques: structured light and structure from motion. The first approach uses triangulation of a coherent light source and a camera to reconstruct the 3D scene; the second extracts matched features in multiple views over a scene to determine relative camera positions so the 3D scene can be reconstructed via stereo vision techniques. For this project, the approach is to: (Task 1) develop a detailed operational specification; (Task 2) use the specification to inform the design of a proof-of-concept system and to fabricate the system using representative optical components housed in readily available commercial waterproof enclosures; (Task 3) demonstrate open-water system performance by reconstructing 3D scenes that include munition mimicking targets, and researching candidate munition detection and classification algorithms suitable for this type of data; and (Task 4) use the results of the proof-of-concept study to create a high level design of a next-generation, mission representative system.


The OMD is designed to close operational gaps in the remedial investigation of underwater sites suspected of munition contamination. Specifically, the OMD is designed to provide information on munition location, type, and integrity under conditions that are difficult for currently-fielded technologies. This additional data will improve the performance of automatic target recognition and will improve the overall quality of data site managers have when making plans and decisions related to remedial action.

  • UXO Detection and Classification,

  • Optical Munition Detector (OMD),