City Research Online

Sea lions could use multilateration localization for object tracking as tested with bio-inspired whisker arrays

Glick, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-7789-9358, Muthuramalingam, M. & Brücker, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-5834-3020 (2022). Sea lions could use multilateration localization for object tracking as tested with bio-inspired whisker arrays. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 11764. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-15904-1


Previous behavioural research on live sea lions has shown that they are able to detect the direction of oncoming vortices, even when impacting contralaterally. These experiments showed that the whisker system and the animal’s neural processing is seemingly able to detect the Direction of Arrival (DoA) from just one side of the heads vibrissal pads. Therefore, temporal differences between whisker stimulation is a likely method for determining the angle. Herein, a theoretical model is presented based on multilateration, and tested by experimental studies on a 2D array of bio-inspired whiskers with regular spacing, and a 3D array of bio-inspired whiskers on a model head of a sea lion, as used in our previous studies. The results show that arrays of whiskers can in principle work as antennae to determine the DoA. This detection of the DoA is achieved by cross-correlation of triplets of whiskers, and Time Difference Of Arrival based multilateration, a method similar to signal processing in modern communication systems and other source localization applications. The results on the 2D array are conclusive and clearly support the hypothesis, while increased uncertainties were found for the 3D array, which could be explained by structural shortcomings of the experimental model. Possible ways to improve the signal are discussed.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Biomimetics, Engineering
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology
School of Science & Technology > Engineering > Mechanical Engineering & Aeronautics
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (2MB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login