Radar Vs. Sonar

Radar stands for Radio detection and ranging whereas Sonar stands for sound navigation and ranging. There are some similarities and differences between Radar and Sonar. The applications are certainly different and that is mainly due to properties of each.


  • Both use the method of detecting reception of a signal that is transmitted. Both use the principles of Doppler Effect.
  • Both technologies have been in use for a long time
  • Both are used to locate distance objects and clearly determine their position and distance
  • Both are used in preventing collision from happening in cases where visibility is poor


  • Radar uses radio waves which are electromagnetic; whereas sonar uses acoustic or sound waves
  • Radar is mostly used in atmosphere and sonar is used underwater.
  • Radar has a greater range than sonar
  • Radar is fast to respond whereas sonar is slow. This is mainly due to the fact that electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light whereas sound waves depend on the medium in which they travel and also on other factors like temperature, pressure, and salinity of water


Radar is used in aircraft control and maintenance; it is also used by law enforcement agencies to detect speeding cars. In fact, there is a heavy demand for radar detectors and it is evident from many radar detector reviews that are available on the net is a fact that points to many people using them. It is also used in the military for guiding missiles on targets and also in anti-missile and anti-aircraft collision systems.

Sonar is used for operating vehicles underwater remotely and also used in underwater exploration and searches. Military appliances include guiding anti-submarine missiles and torpedoes and also submarine navigation.

Thus Radar is more commonly used in day to day life of civilians than Sonar.