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The Advanced Technology Laboratory (ATL)
conducts research and development associated with the application of acoustic, electromagnetic, and optical technologies.

  • Acoustic technology applications
    • Modeling
    • Transducers
    • Signal Processing
    • High Resolution Sonar
    • High Energy Acoustic Sources
    • High Frequency Ocean Environmental Acoustics
  • Electromagnetic and optical technology applications
    • Wireless Networks
    • Millimeter Wave Electromagnetic Sensors
    • Underwater Optical Systems
    • High Frequency Radio

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THE EXPERTISE IN HIGH RESOLUTION SONAR which resides in ATL has evolved from the earliest studies in underwater acoustics pursued at ARL:UT. In fact, ATL traces its roots to the early 1950s when a naval mine classification sonar was needed to complement the mine detection sonar used on minesweepers during the Korean War. R&D efforts at ARL:UT resulted in the development of the experimental CXRP classification sonar that was later transitioned to the AN/SQQ-14 for use on ocean minesweeping (MSO) vessels. Since that early work, ATL has conducted R&D in target physics, environmental acoustics, signal processing, modeling, and human perception for many of the US Navy’s sonar systems. In the 1970s, research in nonlinear acoustics led to the development of the parametric acoustic array and the incorporation of this array in US Navy depth sounders. Research in this technology continued and resulted in successful applications for sub-sea floor object detection as well as for ice thickness measurement.

Extensive studies and development of small object detection systems have been performed. This work has provided the basis for the optimal implementation in hardware and software for detection and discrimination of manmade objects by sonar systems such as the AN/SQQ-32 minehunting sonar, the Deep Submergence Obstacle Avoidance Sonar (DS/OAS), the AN/BQS-15(A) sonar, and the high frequency sonar systems used in the AN/BQQ-10 submarine combat system. ATL sonar designs are found on all US Navy attack submarines. These sonar systems are being miniaturized for use on unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) for mine reconnaissance and other applications.

ATL also has conducted research on special purpose sonar systems for use by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) divers, Special Forces, marine mammals, and for swimmer detection. The Underwater Imaging System (UIS) and the Hydrographic Mapping Unit (HMU) designed and developed by ATL are the primary sonar units used by combat swimmers. The initial design and implementation of the AN/SQS-47 was performed by ATL for swimmer detection during the Vietnam conflict. An advanced sonar capability was developed later and is the basis for swimmer security systems currently used for both force protection and homeland defense. Finally, the Acoustic Firing System (AFS) developed by ATL is the primary tool used by US Navy divers for remote control of underwater devices.

ATL also addresses issues in another long-standing ARL:UT technical area, that of electromagnetics. ATL is conducting unique research on electromagnetic systems. Passive security systems operating at millimeter wavelengths have demonstrated the potential to see through obstructions and operate at extended range.  Also, the high frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum has been exploited for extended line-of-sight communications. Research on small, efficient antenna designs has produced wideband antennas that operate near theoretical limits at sizes as small as 0.02 wavelengths.

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ATL projects cover the full spectrum of research from basic to advanced research supporting the design and development of system prototypes as well as production systems. ATL maintains a research focus in the following areas:

  • Analysis and modeling of medium characteristics relative to the ocean acoustic environment and its effect on undersea warfare systems
  • Analysis of acoustic and electromagnetic target characteristics as applied to countermeasures, sensors and signal processing
  • The development of high frequency sonar systems as applied to minehunting, obstacle avoidance, reconnaissance, and swimmer detection
  • Development of signal and information processing and display technologies for sonar systems, electromagnetic, and optical systems

ATL Director, E-mail: atl_director@arlut.utexas.edu

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USN submarine

A US Navy submarine with sonar arrays for under-ice operation developed by ATL surfaces through the ice canopy.


diver sonar

A diver hand-held sonar developed by ATL


shipboard WQX

An ATL developed sonar being deployed from a US Navy ship



A forward looking sonar developed by ATL installed on the nose of an unmanned underwater vehicle


mapping display

A prototype underwater mapping display showing color-encoded bathymetry in 3D perspective


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