Artificial Underwater Electrolocation
Electric Fields can be used as a means of underwater detection, localization and characterization of objects. Observations of certain species of weakly electric fish suggest the possibility of near-field underwater detection capabilities through the use of biologically inspired electrolocation. A system featuring a dipolar electric field source, analogous to the electric discharge organ of weakly electric fish, and an appropriate arrangement of electric potential sensors could emulate this phenomenon. A mathematical model was developed through the method of images to represent canonical spherical targets in the presence of a static, finite, dipolar electric source in a conducting medium. Characteristics of the electropotential pattern on a sensor array are shown through matrix transform models to predictably vary according to the radius, location and material composition of the target spheres. Transform matrices are determined by parameters relating to a given set of physical circumstances. An inverse model follows from the invertible and linear forward model, such that the relevant target characteristics can be gleaned from a given electropotential pattern and appropriate matrices. The accuracy and effective range of predictions for certain practical cases of varying scales and configurations was calculated by comparing realistic noise and sensor parameters to simulation results. Applications to marine littoral environments were explored as they relate to the simulations.
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