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Published September 20, 2023 | Published
Journal Article Open

Polarization patterns of light enable geolocalization in oceans

  • 1. ROR icon California Institute of Technology


The deep ocean, characterized by its immense depths and absence of global positioning system (GPS) functionality, presents considerable challenges for search and rescue missions. Inspired by the geolocalization capabilities of migratory marine animals, Bai et al. present a novel method for underwater geolocalization using the polarization patterns of light in the underwater environment. Emulating a sextant using these underwater polarization patterns, the study determines geolocation in underwater settings. Despite prior skepticism, even in low-visibility waters, these patterns, learned through a deep neural network, provide geolocation accuracies of 55 km at 8 m and 255 km at 50 m. This pioneering approach offers implications for search and rescue and hints at navigation mechanisms in marine animals.

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© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


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Additional details

September 27, 2023
September 27, 2023