Small-aperture array processing for passive multi-target angle of arrival estimation

  • D. C. Swanson, R. L. Culver
  • The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, October 2017, Acoustical Society of America (ASA)
  • DOI: 10.1121/1.5006910

Measuring the direction of sound arrival with a very small array of sensors

What is it about?

The paper shows the mathematical details of how to measure the angle of arrival of a plane wave using a general shaped 3-dimensional array, as well as simplifications when using a tetrahedral array (or equilateral triangle array in 2 dimensions). The paper shows how this is possible only for cases where the sound from the direction of interest has high signal-to-noise ratio.

Why is it important?

There are many applications where a large array of sensor traditionally used for beam forming direction finding is not practical. Good examples of this are robotics sensors and mobile surround sound audio microphones.


David Swanson
Pennsylvania State University

This algorithm works very well in high signal-to-noise ratio environments but does not separate sound sources at the same frequency and different angles of arrival. It does not enhance signal-to-noise ratio like a beamformer does. However, it can measure very precise angles of arrival for array apertures small than 1/2 the wavelength. Extremely small apertures (for very low frequency) also work well but require higher signal-to-noise ratio.

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