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A Unified Analysis of Structured Sonar-Terrain Data Using Bayesian Functional Mixed Models

Summary: Sonar emits pulses of sound and uses the reflected echoes to gain information about target objects. It offers a low cost, complementary sensing modality for small robotic platforms. Although existing analytical approaches often assume independence across echoes, real sonar data can have more complicated structures due to device setup or experimental design. In this article, we consider sonar echo data collected from multiple terrain substrates with a dual-channel sonar head. Our goals are to identify the differential sonar responses to terrains and study the effectiveness of this dual-channel design in discriminating targets. We describe a unified analytical framework that achieves these goals rigorously, simultaneously, and automatically. The analysis was done by treating the echo envelope signals as functional responses and the terrain/channel information as covariates in a functional regression setting. We adopt functional mixed models that facilitate the estimation of terrain and channel effects while capturing the complex hierarchical structure in data. This unified analytical framework incorporates both Gaussian models and robust models. We fit the models using a full Bayesian approach, which enables us to perform multiple inferential tasks under the same modeling framework, including selecting models, estimating the effects of interest, identifying significant local regions, discriminating terrain types, and describing the discriminatory power of local regions. Our analysis of the sonar-terrain data identifies time regions that reflect differential sonar responses to terrains. The discriminant analysis suggests that a multi- or dual-channel design achieves target identification performance comparable with or better than a single-channel design. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

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  • Topics: Statistics
  • Keywords: Acoustic data, Bayesian methods, Discriminant analysis, Echo data, Functional regression, Mixed effects model, Wavelets
  • Author: Zhu, Hongxiao; Caspers, Philip; Morris, Jeffrey S.; Wu, Xiaowei; Muller, Rolf
  • Journal: Technometrics