Underwater Direction of Arrival Estimation and Feature Extraction using Acoustic Sensor Arrays

   School of Engineering

  ,  Friday, September 30, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Robert Gordon University, through the School of Engineering is offering a PhD studentship, within the Energy Research Group in line with the oil and gas exploration and other underwater applications.

Underwater navigation is required by Remotely Operated underwater Vehicle (ROV), submarines and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). The most important part of navigation is the information of direction of arrival and the properties of the objects present underwater. Sound Navigation and Ranging (Sonar) arrays are being used for this purpose. The accuracy and resolution of the estimated parameters depend on the array arrangement and technique used for parameter estimation. Uniform Linear Array (ULA) and Uniform Rectangular Array (URA) arrangements are being used depending on the azimuth and elevation parameters to be estimated. 

Scientists use these Sonars for “listening” to the ocean. Also, the operator of ROV uses imaging sonar to find the shapes, sizes and surfaces of chosen objects. Algorithm development will be included in this PhD studentship. Rigorous simulation for testing and verification of the techniques will be done. A comparison will be made with the existing algorithms. There are many projects related to underwater vehicles undergoing in RGU specifically in collaboration with NSC.

Aim and Objectives

• Direction of Arrival estimation algorithm development using various sensor array arrangements

• Parameter estimation of objects under observation

• Resolution improvement for close objects

• Accuracy and robustness testing of the technique by comparing with other methods


• The array system will be modelled mathematically, and the scenario will be created for simulation purpose.

• In first stage, the phase and time difference of the signals received by the sensors will be used to estimate direction of arrival (DoA). 

• In next stage, the transformations will be used to extract features of the objects. For this purpose, subspace e.g., Estimation of signal parameters via rotational invariance technique (ESPRIT) and adaptive algorithms e.g., Least mean square (LMS), Recursive least square (RLS) will be used. 

• A hybrid approach will be developed to achieve high resolution and fast processing. Analysis and comparisons will be made with existing techniques. 

• Algorithm will be optimized to reduce error and processing time.  

This research will help to apply for research grants from UKRI, Horizon Europe and other EU-funding agencies. The research findings will be published in reputed journals and conferences. The research output from the PhD will be later implemented in funded projects.

Desirable skills and knowledge: Knowledge or experience in sensors, mathematical modelling/simulations and ROVs/AUVs is advantageous.

Applications should be emailed to Dr Nauman Baig at

The applications should consist of a covering letter or personal statement of interest, academic transcripts and a CV.

It is expected that candidates are available to register and commence study on 01 Feb 2023. In addition, the successful candidate will be expected to submit publications to refereed journals and to present their findings at international conferences.

Questions should initially be addressed to: 

Dr Nauman Baig

School of Engineering, Robert Gordon University, Sir Ian Wood Building, Garthdee Campus, Aberdeen, AB10 7GJ United Kingdom

T: +44 (0) 1224 262429


W: https://www.rgu.ac.uk/

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a First- or Second-Class UK honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline such Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Telecommunication Engineering. MSc in a relevant subject is highly desirable. Knowledge or experience of Digital signal processing, Communications, proficiency in MATLAB or related software is advantageous.

Keywords: Under water, ROV, Object detection, Sonar, Direction of Arrival, Arrays, Signal Processing

Funding Notes

Applicants are eligible for a fee waiver studentship for the duration of the 3 years. This studentship will cover the tuition fees only for qualified home or overseas students. Interested candidates will have to secure their own financial support to support their living costs during the duration of the PhD study.

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