Analysis of Bat Biosonar Beampatterns: Biodiversity and Dynamics

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Virginia Tech

Across species, bats exhibit wildly disparate differences in their noseleaf and pinnae shapes. Within Rhinolophid and Hipposiderid families, bats actively deform their pinnae and noseleaf during biosonar operation. Both the pinnae and noseleaf act as acoustic baffles which interact with the outgoing and incoming sound; thus, they form an important interface between the bat and its environment. Beampatterns describe this interface as joint time-frequency transfer functions which vary across spatial direction.

This dissertation considers bat biosonar shape diversity and shape dynamics manifest as beampatterns. In the first part, the seemingly disparate set of functional properties resulting from diverse pinnae and noseleaf shape adaptations are considered. The question posed in this part is as follows: (i) what are the common properties between species beampatterns? and (ii) how are beampatterns aligned to a common direction for meaningful analysis? Hence, a quantitative interspecific analysis of the beampattern biodiversity was taken wherein: (i) unit[267]{} different pinnae and noseleaf beampatterns were rotationally aligned to a common direction and (ii) decomposed using principal component analysis, PCA. The first three principal components termed eigenbeams affect beamwidth around the single lobe, symmetric mean beampattern.

Dynamic shape adaptations to the pinnae and noseleaf of the greater horseshoe bat (textit{Rhinolophus ferrumequinum}) are also considered. However, the underlying dynamic sensing principles in use are not clear. Hence, this work developed a biomimetic substrate to explore the emission and reception dynamics of the horseshoe bat as a sonar device. The question posed in this part was as follows: how do local features on the noseleaf and pinnae interact individually and when combined together to generate peak dynamic change to the incoming sonar information? Flexible noseleaf and pinnae baffles with different combinations of local shape features were developed. These baffles were then mounted to platforms to biomimetically actuate the noseleaf and pinnae during pulse emission and reception. Motions of the baffle surfaces were synchronized to the incoming and outgoing sonar waveform, and the time-frequency properties of the emission and reception baffles were characterized across spatial direction. Different feature combinations of the noseleaf and pinnae local shape features were ranked for overall dynamic effect.

Sonar, Bats, Biomimetic, Beampatterns, Robotics