Ottawa-based Maritime Way Scientific
is helping the Canadian military monitor Arctic seas with its breakthrough underwater communications technology.
Melting ice due to climate change is making Arctic waters more accessible, opening passageways that allow for greater activity and new economic opportunities. As international interest in northern waters increases, the Canadian government is making underwater surveillance a top defence priority in the Arctic.
A key goal of Defence Research and Development Canada’s (DRDC) Arctic surveillance efforts is developing solutions to improve underwater acoustic communications. The Arctic environment poses unique challenges to traditional methods of transmitting signals underwater, as ice cover and other characteristics disrupt acoustic waves as they travel through water. Communications between modems can be difficult. Building an effective modem network underwater requires the ability to simulate the Arctic environment and predict the impact of these different factors on signal transmissions.
Under a contract awarded by DRDC, Maritime Way and computer scientists from Carleton University
have developed software that models underwater acoustic communications in Arctic-specific conditions. This BELLTEX system allows DRDC to determine the optimal configuration and placement for underwater modems without expensive trial and error. A two-year Voucher for Innovation and Productivity I (VIP I)
project funded by OCE supported the development of the technology, which also received NRC-IRAP funding.
DRDC recently tested BELLTEX in the Arctic. The project helped position Maritime Way as an internationally recognized expert in acoustics modelling and strengthened its ongoing relationships with DRDC and Lockheed Martin Canada, which made a major investment in the company’s SPARTA (Sonar Performance – Acoustic Research – Tactical Analysis) technology.