Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

PADAL-Passive Acoustic Detection and Localisation: Low energy underwater wireless vessel tracking network

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gavin LowesORCiD, Professor Jeffrey Neasham



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This paper presents the development of a low energy wireless Passive Acoustic Detection And Localisation (PADAL) vessel tracking system. The purpose of this technology is to exploit propeller cavitation noise to detect and track vessel activity using a small acoustic receiver array. The PADAL system uses two main techniques in an energy conservation hierarchical approach to perform very low energy detection followed by higher energy bearing estimation which can enable localisation given multiple PADAL nodes. A low energy implementation of Detection of Envelope Modulation On Noise (DEMON) algorithm is used to identify a vessel in the area. This is followed by a generalised cross-correlation phase transform (GCC-PHAT) method of estimating the bearing the vessel using the receiver array. Experiments have been conducted under very controlled conditions using recordings of a known vessel processed offline. These experiments have aided the development of both detection and bearing estimate algorithms and results have shown the ability to detect and estimate the bearing of vessels using a small three element array with minimal signal processing to conserve energy. Using these positive results a PADAL prototype unit has been developed which is based on a custom analogue front end amplifier and Arm Cortex M4 processor. This system has been successfully tested at sea utilising a custom LoRaWAN two-way transparent serial link gateway buoy to receive data and modify tuning parameter in real time. The initial field trial results have shown the PADAL unit can autonomously detect and then estimate the bearing of a vessel with data relayed back to shore in real time. Future work will include a redevelopment of the PADAL hardware to move away from a prototype stage in an effort to minimise power consumption. The ultimate long term goal of the project is to deploy multiple PADAL nodes to establish a underwater sensor network to detect and track vessel activity in and out of a local port with data validation provided by the local port authority.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lowes GJ, Neasham J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Computer Networks

Year: 2024

Volume: 241

Print publication date: 01/03/2024

Online publication date: 25/01/2024

Acceptance date: 23/01/2024

Date deposited: 14/02/2024

ISSN (print): 1389-1286

ISSN (electronic): 1872-7069

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.comnet.2024.110216

Notes: Special Issue on Underwater Networks & Systems (WUWNet 2022) and advances of the state-of-the-art in underwater communications and networking


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name