Real-time sonar object detection for an autonomous survey-robot

Developing a customizeable real-time sonar object detection for an autonomous survey-robot of a high tech bionics and robotics company

Discover our journey

A German high tech company wanted to implement a solution for real-time object detection to assist the operators of their autonomous survey robots. Their aim was to find and identify mission critical objects in hard-to-interpret sonar image data.


The client needed a fully automatic detector working in real-time. The supporting infrastructure should enable the client's customers to train a model with user specific object types, and to deploy the model on their edge devices.


Our cloud-based data management and machine learning platform ensures continuous delivery of individually trained models. A module for embedded systems for edge devices enables running detectors which are configured and trained for the use case.


A highly scalable pipeline for training detection models and an AI IoT solution enable the detection of user specific objects.

Solve your challenge

Customizeable, real-time Sonar Object Detection for an autonomous survey-robot

Surveying and search operations are carried out worldwide in lakes, canals or coastal waters to detect objects hidden underwater: scrap metal in shipping routes or old military loads, such as aerial bombs or underwater mines. To support these search operations, Evologics developed the Sonobot 5, one of the fastest floating sonar USVs (unmanned surface vessels) in the world. Among other things, it supports the police and coast guard in locating and recovering drowned people.

The Client

EvoLogics is a hightech company based in Berlin with strong maritime bionics and robotics R&D experience. They offer solutions for underwater communication and monitoring, including the Sonar USV with the highest speed on water worldwide. This USV should find and identify mission critical objects assisted by real-time object detection.

The Challenge

Autonomous robotic sonar surveys produce large amounts of complex, difficult to interpret sonar data. Points of interest (POI) are obscured by background scatter and noise, hidden in mountains of data.

Moreover, survey missions take place off-grid with limited hardware and limited connection to data processing infrastructure.

How do we assist the survey operators in finding POIs? Can the Bot scan interesting positions automatically from different angles? How can we train and deploy models to support the search for these limited edge devices, and with user specific object types?

The Solution

We developed a web portal that manages the clients' models, data, and updates for their embedded devices. In this platform the clients can configure and train customized models, choosing their ideal trade-off between speed and accuracy, sharing communal data or keeping their data confidential.

During the survey missions the POIs are detected and highlighted live and in real-time. The survey operators can also do the same anytime with replay data.
They can also set confidence filters for each detected class and optimize for clustered or solitary objects at detection time.

The updates for the models and detectors are modular, saving bandwidth and providing flexibility.

The Results

We finetuned a state-of-the art object detection algorithm for objects in sonar images.

  • For this, we employed transfer learning to maximize data utilization and minimize training time.
  • Our python-based deep learning framework enables both quick development and optimal model performance across platforms.
  • We deployed the trainings pipeline and data storage for training data, models and artefacts in the cloud.
  • This scalable and widely customizable cloud stack allows any number of clients to work in parallel. The resource deployment and management is fully automated.
  • The deployment of the detection model occurs embedded in the survey Sonobots using edge-AI technology.
  • Continuous delivery pipelines serve modular updates for both models and embedded devices.
"Despite working with several development teams at three locations around the world and from two different companies, the joint development of this state-of-the-art sensor application was highly goal-oriented and ran smoothly. Our cooperation with Steadforce has (once again) proven to be a garantor for sophisticated developments at the highest technical level."
Fabian Bannasch - CEO of EvoLogics
Have a talk with Stephan
Stephan Schiffner
Chief Technology Officer

Stephan helps clients to develop innovative solutions with Analytics and AI, create data strategies and automate processes and applications in industry and healthcare and also drives these technologies in science and teaching.

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