T. Martin Siderius

Date of Award

Summer 7-14-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 221 pages)


Autonomous vehicles, Acoustic localization, Sonar, Beamforming




New underwater passive sonar techniques are developed for enhancing target localization capabilities in shallow ocean environments. The ocean surface and the seabed act as acoustic mirrors that reflect sound created by boats or subsurface vehicles, which gives rise to echoes that can be heard by hydrophone receivers (underwater microphones). The goal of this work is to leverage this "multipath" phenomenon in new ways to determine the origin of the sound, and thus the location of the target. However, this is difficult for propeller driven vehicles because the noise they produce is both random and continuous in time, which complicates its measurement and analysis. Further, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) pose additional challenges because very little is known about the sound they generate, and its similarity to that of boats. Existing methods for localizing propeller noise using multiple hydrophones have approached the problem either purely theoretically, or empirically such as by analyzing the interference patterns between multipath arrivals at different frequencies, however little has been published on building localization techniques that directly measure and utilize the time delays between multipath arrivals while simultaneously accounting for relevant environmental parameters. This research develops such techniques through a combination of array beamforming and advanced ray-based modeling that account for variations in bathymetry (seabed topography) as well as variations of the sound speed of the water. The basis for these advances come from several at-sea experiments in which different configurations of passive sonar systems recorded sounds emitted by different types of targets, including small boats and an autonomous underwater vehicle. Ultimately, these contributions may reduce the complexity and cost of passive systems that need to be deployed close to shore, such as for harbor security applications. Further, they also create new possibilities for applying passive sonar in remote ocean regions for tasks such as detecting illegal fishing activity.

This dissertation makes three key contributions:

1. Analysis of the aspect-dependent acoustic radiation patterns of an underway autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) through full-field wave modeling.

2. A two-hydrophone cross-correlation technique that leverages multipath as well as bathymetric variations to estimate the range and bearing of a small boat, supported by a mathematically rigorous performance analysis.

3. A multi-target localization technique based on directly measuring multipath from multiple small surface vessels using a small hydrophone array mounted to the nose of an AUV, which operates by cross-correlating two elevation beams on a single bearing.

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