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Self-localization of a mobile swarm using noise correlations with local sources of opportunity.

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Groups of coordinated underwater vehicles or sensors are powerful tools for monitoring the ocean. A requirement of many coordinated surveys is to determine a spatial reference between each node in a swarm. This work considers the self-localization of a swarm of independently moving vehicles using acoustic noise from a dominating incoherent source recorded by a single hydrophone onboard each vehicle. This method provides an inexpensive and infrastructure-free spatial reference between vehicles. Movement between the vehicles changes the swarm geometry and a self-localization estimate must be generated from data collected on short time scales. This challenges past self-localization approaches for acoustic arrays. To overcome this challenge, the proposed self-localization algorithm jointly estimates the vehicle geometry and the directionality of the ambient noise field, without prior knowledge of either estimate. To demonstrate this method, experimental results are provided when a boat is the main dominating source. The results demonstrate the ability to both estimate the direction of arrival of the boat and the relative positions of the vehicles in the swarm. The approach in this paper is not limited to moving vessels. Simulations are provided to examine three different factors that affect the proposed solution: inter-vehicle motion, vehicle geometry, and the azimuthal variance of the noise field.

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