Biomimetic sonar design and the investigation of the role of peripheral dynamics for target classification in bat biosonar

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Virginia Tech


The biosonar system of bats has many unique adaptations which allow for navigation in extremely cluttered environments. One such adaptation is the rapid motion of the pinna and noseleaf observed in certain families of old-world bats (Rhinolophidae and Hipposiderae). Little is known about the physical properties about this adaptation affects emitted pulses or incoming echoes. To explore the physical properties of biosonar systems utilizing dynamic peripheries, biomimetic sonar systems have been devised, which can be used to simulate the structural characteristics of the pinna and noseleaf geometry as well as the motor characteristics. Using this method, it was determined that the changing conformations of the biomimetic baffles were responsible for time-variant signatures in echoes. These signatures could be seen in echoes from a variety of both simple and complex target shapes. Then to further the capabilities of the device, an improved actuation system was devised using pneumatic actuation. This allowed for the baffles to make several unique motions as opposed to being restricted to one previously. It was also shown that the distinct motion profiles of the system led to distinct differences in the received acoustic signal. The features encoded by this system could lead to improvements in the development of improved sensing of smaller autonomous systems.

GRANT INFORMATION: This work was supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval Engineering Education Consortium (NEEC). Additional support was provided by an East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF).



bats, sonar, acoustics, biomimetics, bio-inspiration, robotics