This proposal unites a consortium of international quality researchers from six organisations with wide-ranging expertise in acoustic technologies and their application. Specifically, the consortium brings together fundamental expertise in animal acoustics, mathematical and signal processing theory, acoustical transducer design and the implementation of experimental ‘proof of concept’ engineering systems. The global objective of the programme is to harness the acoustic capabilities of biological systems and apply these to a range of practical engineering disciplines. Our inspiration comes from bats and cetaceans that use sound to survive and have vastly superior capabilities than us with regard to resolution, object identification and material characterisation. Recognising that engineered acoustic systems could have enormous potential if they approach the efficiencies of bat and cetacean systems, the proposed programme aims to make a break-through in high-resolution acoustic imaging and physical characterization This will be accomplished by the development of sonar systems inspired by those employed by bats and cetaceans but not used, to date, within human-designed systems. Driven by a carefully selected set of applications in biomedicine, materials characterisation, underwater sonar and non-destructive evaluation, the research programme will tackle the critical limitation that is inherent to all current acoustic technologies, namely the resolution and energy compromise. This will be achieved through improved understanding of animal acoustics, particularly with regard to signal generation and subsequent processing. The programme will undertake systematic basic experimental science using well-calibrated targets to understand some of the acoustic features used by bats and cetaceans, and make use this to develop parallel features in technology. The findings will be applied to practical transducer and array design, in conjunction with data analysis and system implementation, to selected application areas. The programme has the potential to make the UK a world leader in bio-inspired acoustics. It will lead to the furtherance of science and technology, with wide ranging application, which hitherto has been unattainable, and thereby be of considerable benefit to the general community.