Water is an essential component of the Earth’s climate, but monitoring its properties using autonomous underwater sampling robots remains a significant challenge due to lack of underwater geolocalization capabilities. Current methods for underwater geolocalization rely on tethered systems with limited coverage or daytime imagery data in clear waters, leaving much of the underwater environment unexplored. Geolocalization in turbid waters or at night has been considered unfeasible due to absence of identifiable landmarks. In this paper, we present a novel method for underwater geolocalization using deep neural networks trained on ∼ 10 million polarization-sensitive images acquired globally, along with camera position sensor data. Our approach achieves longitudinal accuracy of ∼ 55 km (∼ 1000 km) during daytime (nighttime) at depths up to ∼ 8 m, regardless of water turbidity. In clear waters, the transfer learning longitudinal accuracy is ∼ 255 km at 50 m depth. By leveraging optical data in conjunction with camera position information, our novel method facilitates underwater geolocalization and offers a valuable tool for untethered underwater navigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Celestial-based navigation
  • Deep learning
  • Ocean exploration
  • Polarization
  • Underwater geolocalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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