Skip to Main Content
Echolocating mammals such as bats, whales and dolphins have been using waveform diversity for over 50 million years. Synthetic systems such as sonar and radar have existed for fewer than 100 years. Given the extraordinary capability of echolocating mammals it seems self-evident that designers of radar (and sonar) systems may be able to learn lessons that may potentially revolutionize current radar-based capability leading to truly autonomous navigation, collision avoidance, and automatic target classification. Echolocating mammals have been little studied in relation to the operation of radar and sonar systems. In this article, we introduce a range of strategies employed by bats and consider how these might be exploitable in the radar systems of tomorrow. Specifically, we concentrate on the functions necessary for autonomous navigation. Echolocating mammals are known to vary their waveforms via modification to the pulse-repetition frequency (PRF), also known to biologists as pulse-repetition rate (PRR), power, and frequency content of their transmitted waveforms. This has enabled them to evolve highly sophisticated orientation techniques and the ability to successfully forage for food. Moreover, recent developments in technology mean that it is now possible to replicate these parametric variations in synthetic sensing systems such as radar and sonar.