Place recognition using batlike sonar

Dieter Vanderelst*, Jan Steckel, Andre Boen, Herbert Peremans, Marc W. Holderied

*Corresponding author for this work

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

17 Citations (Scopus)
403 Downloads (Pure)


Echolocating bats have excellent spatial memory and are able to navigate to salient locations using bio-sonar. Navigating and route-following require animals to recognize places. Currently, it is mostly unknown how bats recognize places using echolocation. In this paper, we propose template based place recognition might underlie sonar-based navigation in bats. Under this hypothesis, bats recognize places by remembering their echo signature - rather than their 3D layout. Using a large body of ensonification data collected in three different habitats, we test the viability of this hypothesis assessing two critical properties of the proposed echo signatures: (1) they can be uniquely classified and (2) they vary continuously across space. Based on the results presented, we conclude that the proposed echo signatures satisfy both criteria. We discuss how these two properties of the echo signatures can support navigation and building a cognitive map.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14188
Number of pages23
Early online date2 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2016


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