Researchers believe that the technique used by bats to recognise their surroundings could one day improve cancer diagnosis, enabling more timely cancer treatment.
Experts at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland are hoping to mimic bat radar to help them locate hard-to-find tumours within the body.
Lead researcher Professor Gordon Hayward explained: "Bats, dolphins and whales use complex acoustic waveforms for object identification and navigation."
The team is now collaborating with scientists in the US to develop acoustic codes for tumour cells, which would enable them to send out pulses of sound and detect cancer cells from the reflected echoes.
Early detection of tumours would enable doctors to administer cancer treatment at an earlier stage in the disease, thereby improving the patient's chances of survival.
The researcher told the BBC that their study may be completed within the next three years and that the findings could have implications for locating hidden mines, as well as for assisting cancer treatment.