Ensuring military forces have up-to-date information about a potentially hostile region offers obvious advantages, but current methods for doing that - especially along shorelines, where underwater mines and other hazards can pose serious risks - all have drawbacks.
Engineers from the University of Houston are addressing the challenge as part of a $1 million project led by Craig Glennie, associate professor of civil engineering and an investigator with the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, or NCALM.
The work is part of a larger effort, funded by Office of Naval Research and led by Northeastern University.
Megan Robertson, UH associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Aaron Becker, UH assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, are working with Glennie on the project.
One phase involves the design of self-guided "packages," small containers made of a biodegradable material and filled with sensors to map the coastline and sea bottom.
"It's kind of like 'Mission Impossible,' but slightly more discreet.