Biomimetic echolocation with application to radar and sonar sensing

Chris J. Baker*, Graeme E. Smith, Alessio Balleri, Marc Holderied, Hugh D. Griffiths

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Nature provides a number of examples where acoustic echolocation is the primary sensing modality, the most well known of these being the bat, whale, and dolphin. All demonstrate a remarkable ability to 'see with sound.' Using echolocation, they navigate, locate, and capture prey. As species, they have not only survived but have thrived in all their individual environments, often solely reliant on echolocation. All of these creatures are inherently cognitive. They all maintain a perception of their environment through the nervous system that allows them to take actions. In this paper, we focus on the bat as an example of a cognitive system exploiting a memory-driven perception-action cycle, enabling it to navigate and interact with its environment. The key conceptual components of cognition and how it could be applied to man-made echoic sensors is introduced. This is followed by a description of how echoic flow fields, a bio-inspired technique that bats have been shown to use, fit guidance, and control problems. We then go on to explain how bats are able to reliably distinguish between different targets. A combination of the theory and examples is used to demonstrate the vast potential for advancing the capability of made in man-made systems by adopting aspects of natural echolocating cognitive dynamic systems. © 2014 IEEE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6766229
Pages (from-to)447-458
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number4
Early online date12 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Autonomous navigation
  • cognitive radar
  • cognitive sensing
  • echoic flow
  • echolocation
  • optical flow
  • radar cognition
  • radar perception-action
  • sonar
  • target classification
  • target recognition


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