Optical and Acoustic Imaging Comparison in a Controlled Underwater Environment

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


Accurate sensing of objects in the marine environment under varying environmental conditions can be performed using a variety of sensing modalities; acoustic methods (sonar) dominate due to the inherent high transmissivity of sound in water, but visual sensing (cameras) are also valuable tools, that are, however, more affected by turbidity and lighting. In this work, the operational limits with respect to turbidity, lightning, and target object distance, of these two main sensing modalities are compared in a controlled underwater environment, embodied by two off-the-shelf commercial products, chosen for high-measurement resolution and ease of integration, in the form of a high-frequency forward-looking imaging sonar and an infrared and color stereo camera, which is additionally assisted by a laser line reference. It is shown that the stereo camera yields high fidelity measurements up to a turbidity of 1 FTU at distances up to 1.7 m, whereafter clouding of the image renders the sensor unable to calculate object distances and dimensions. The sonar is unaffected by the additional turbidity up to the upper test limit of 6 FTU.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 2023 OCEANS Conference & Exposition, Oceans 2023 Limerick
Number of pages8
Publication date2023
ISBN (Electronic)9798350332261
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventOCEANS 2023 Limerick - Blue Ocean Planet Earth, Limerick, Ireland
Duration: 5 Jun 20238 Jun 2023


ConferenceOCEANS 2023 Limerick
LocationBlue Ocean Planet Earth
Internet address


  • Imaging Sonar
  • Inspection
  • Navigation
  • Stereo Camera
  • Turbidity
  • Underwater Robotics


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