Bio-Inspired Vibrational Transmitters for Wireless Underground Communication

Yi Zhong, Julian Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This study aims to develop small-size, energy-efficient, and low-cost sources for a bioinspired underground communication system using seismic waves. Inspired by how animals generate substrate-borne vibrations, two different vibrational sources were designed, fabricated, and evaluated. One source is inspired by tremulation and it features an enclosed vibrator; the other is inspired by drumming and it features an enclosed solenoid. The two sources were then used to transmit plain text files and image files in dry sand. The data files were first converted to binary streams and then encoded using on–off keying modulation, based on which the vibrational sources were controlled. The results showed that a 0.6W tremulation-inspired vibration source could send clear signals up to 70 cm in loose dry sand, but it would encounter a jamming problem when the embedment depth was high. Even though it is hard to control the solenoid to sub-milliseconds precision, the drumming-inspired vibrational source performs well at depth and at distance. It can serve as a high-quality source for a vibrational underground communication system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue numberGSP 336
StatePublished - 2022
Event2022 GeoCongress: State of the Art and Practice in Geotechnical Engineering - Advances in Monitoring and Sensing; Embankment, Slopes, and Dams; Pavements; and Geo-Education - Charlotte, United States
Duration: Mar 20 2022Mar 23 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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