What does echolocation mean?

Echolocation is the process where sound waves and echoes are used to determine objects in space. If one makes the sound, then he would know that the longer the gap between the sound and the echo, then the further away from the object that the sound was reflecting from. If one knows the speed the sound wave is travelling at and the exact time it takes for the echo to be heard, then one can exactly how far away the object reflecting the sound is.

Applications of echo

  • Echolocation is used by bats to navigate and find their food in the dark. Bats send out sound waves from their mouth and nose, which then hit the objects in their proximity producing echoes, which are then received by the bats. The nature of the echo helps them determine the size, shape and distance of the object.

  • Echolocation is the principle of radar that is used to map and track the locations of aircraft in the sky and ships on the sea, in this case using electromagnetic waves.
  • It is used by ships that send a sonar (SOund Navigation And Ranging) pulse of sound into the ocean and ‘listen’ to the reflection to find out how deep the water is. The working of sonar involves this process.

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