Spatially distributed MIMO sonar systems: Principles and capabilities

Yan Pailhas, Yvan Petillot, Keith Edgar Brown, Bernard Mulgrew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) sonar systems offer new perspectives for target detection and area surveillance. This paper introduces a unified formulation for sonar MIMO systems and focuses on the target detection and recognition capability of these systems. The multiplication of the number of transmitters and receivers not only provides a greater variety in terms of target view angles but also provides meaningful statistics on the target itself. Assuming that views are independent and the MIMO system is large enough, we demonstrate that target recognition is possible with only one MIMO snapshot. By studying the detection performance of MIMO sonars we also demonstrate that such systems solve the speckle noise and decorrelate individual scatterers inside one cell resolution, leading to super-resolution imaging. We also show that, if carefully designed, MIMO systems can surpass the resolution of a synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) system using the same bandwidth. All the discussed properties are derived from the independent view assumption. Fulfilling this assumption drives the design and efficiency of such systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7559821
Pages (from-to)738-751
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number3
Early online date2 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • MIMO sonar systems
  • multistatic sonars
  • super-resolution sonar images
  • target recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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