Acoustics Research Group

Sound waves digital output © Shutterstock

What is the Acoustics Research Group?

The acoustics research group's primary research is in Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS), a technique for high-resolution undersea imaging. We design and build our own sonars for collecting field data; so far we have collected data in Lyttelton, Auckland and Sydney. Our research concentrates on fast-reconstruction, interferometry, positioning, simulation, and autofocus.

To find out about the research projects being offered see the postgraduate study page.

Synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) is used for creating high-resolution acoustic images of the sea-floor. A high-end SAS is capable of imaging a golf-ball at 500m underwater. In Lyttelton (where we do sea-trials) divers' vision extends only about 1.5 m making sonar essential for object finding.

Traditionally sonar resolution is determined by the size of physical receiver used. For high-resolution imaging (20 mm X 20 mm) at long range (>200 m) very large (about 10 m long) receivers are needed. SAS uses the forward motion of the sonar to synthesise the larger receiver. This lets the SAS fake using a large receiver with a small one and gives it high, range-independent resolution.

University SAS research groups

Commercial SAS

  • Edgetech are a commercial sidescan sonar company. Recently announced deployment of a SAS system on the Hugin 1000.
  • QinetiQ construct and run experimental SAS hardware.
  • Geoacoustics are in partnership with QinetiQ on a commercial SAS venture.

Military SAS

  • Sonatech have built (build?) experimental SAS systems. They also support Hua Lee's research at UCSB and won the US Navy LMRS contract.
  • Northrop Grumman built CSS's SAS and the US-NAVY slow-speed SAS system.
  • NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC), La Spezia, Italy.

Sonar manufacturers

  • Reson are a commercial multi-beam echo-sounder and sonar company.

For advice

Michael Hayes

Co-Director of Mechatronics, Director of Studies - Mechatronics 4th Year Engineering
Link Rm 504

Find research groups

Search our Research database

News, events and seminars