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The security of coastlines can be greatly enhanced using sonar arrays including those towed by autonomous marine drones. This technology produces low-cost, robust, lightweight and power-efficient towed-array sonars based on optical sensing technologies developed in collaboration with industry partners.

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Competitive advantage

  • There is a trend towards the use of marine drones to supplement crewed vessels. Central to the viability of this is the development of towed-array sonars suitable for such autonomous drones.
  • Patented optical technology based on liquid-crystal transducers has been developed with industry partners. Liquid-crystal transducers translate analogue electrical signals into optical signals passively and linearly
  • It is possible to read optically the output of virtually any sensor (e.g. microphone or hydrophone) and transmit its output over optical fibre, leveraging the advantages of optical networks
  • This technology is cheap, robust, lightweight and very power efficient


  • Better coastal security
  • Successful applications
  • Solutions for:
    • The mining industry, Ampcontrol
    • Ocean monitoring, Thales
    • Industrial monitoring, Schneider Electric

Capabilities and facilities

  • UNSW has world class fabrication and characterization facilities related to integrated optics and photonics
  • Access to the world-class Australian National Fabrication Facilities (ANFF)

Our partners

  • Thales Underwater Systems
  • Zedelef Pty Limited