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In this paper we present a time-frequency approach for acoustic seabed classification. Work reported is based on sonar data collected by the Volume Search Sonar (VSS), one of the five sonar systems in the AN/AQS-20. The Volume Search Sonar is a beamformed multibeam sonar system with 27 fore and 27 aft beams, covering almost the entire water volume (from above horizontal, through vertical, back to above horizontal). The processing of a data set of measurement in shallow water is performed using the Fractional Fourier Transform algorithm in order to determine the impulse response of the sediment. The Fractional Fourier transform requires finding the optimum order of the transform that can be estimated based on the properties of the transmitted signal. Singular Value Decomposition and statistical properties of the Wigner and Choi-Williams distributions of the bottom impulse response are employed as features which are, in turn, used for classification. The Wigner distribution can be thought of as a signal energy distribution in joint time-frequency domain. Results of our study show that the proposed technique allows for accurate sediment classification of seafloor bottom data. Experimental results are shown and suggestions for future work are provided.


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