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Navy studying cicadas to improve sonar

While the cicadas taking over the East Coast may just seem like a bother or a tasty snack for your dog, researchers at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center are studying how such a tiny animal can make such a loud noise in the hopes that they can borrow the technology to improve underwater sonar.

Photo courtesy of FairfaxCounty.gov

The researchers from Newport, R.I., presented their findings Monday at the International Congress of Acoustics, Popular Science reported.

Researchers hope that by mimicking the cicada’s method of making sounds, small unmanned underwater vehicles will be able to use active sonar systems, which today are too large and complicated for small vessels to carry. Active sonar systems emit a sound and then listen for the sound waves that bounce back on objects underwater.

Having an active sonar system would allow the UUV to both better be able to locate enemy ships as well as give off sounds that make it seem larger than it is, the website said.

Not familiar with the insect or the noise it can create? Check out the video below.

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