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Bio-Inspired Broadband Sonar: Methods for Acoustical Analysis of Bat Echolocation and Computational Modeling of Biosonar Signal Processing


Echolocating mammals such as bats, dolphins, and toothed whales perceive images of objects with hyper-resolution and navigate seamlessly through obstacles in complex acoustic environments. The biological solution to imaging with sound is vastly different from man-made sonar. The most prominent difference is that instead of imaging with multiple narrow beams, animals ensonify a large spatial region and exploit broadband spectral information to localize echoes with about one degree of angular resolution. By imaging with wider beams, this remarkable performance requires only a single broadband transmitter and two receiving sensors, which is in direct contrast to the tens or hundreds of array elements typically required for high-resolution acoustic imaging. In order to translate the advantages of biosonar to man-made systems, we need an improved understanding of the functional mechanisms that are responsible for its success. Currently, little is known about the neural computations in the auditory system of bats and cetaceans. However, analyzing biological sonar as a black-box system can elucidate some of its information processing. The objectives of this dissertation are to improve our understanding of biosonar from an engineering perspective and to apply this perspective toward the development of a compact bio-inspired broadband sonar system. New high-resolution approaches to analyzing the bio-acoustic signals emitted by echolocating bats are developed in the time-frequency, as well as spatio-temporal domains. Computational modeling and simulation are then used to explore the broadband information received and processed by animals. Translating echolocating animals' complex broadband beam patterns and acoustic signal processing techniques to engineered sensing systems will ultimately lead to significant innovations in how future sonar and radar systems are developed. This research lays the groundwork towards constructing a compact bio-inspired broadband sonar system - one that drastically reduces array hardware complexity and requirements for a variety of real-world aerial and underwater acoustic sensing applications.
Thesis (Ph.D. -- Brown University (2014)

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Gaudette, Jason E., "Bio-Inspired Broadband Sonar: Methods for Acoustical Analysis of Bat Echolocation and Computational Modeling of Biosonar Signal Processing" (2014). Biomedical Engineering Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.