Up to now, wireless underwater communications are mostly implemented with acoustic systems, considering that Radio-Frequency submarine communications cannot comply with the imposed requisites. As a matter of fact, the limited range due to the water attenuation is the main disadvantage of the marine environment. Accordingly, the objective of the UNDERWORLD project is to reevaluate the electromagnetic communications in underwater sensor networks. The reasons to tackle this project are the following:
- First of all, the increasing interest of industry, military, environmental operationsand seaport management infrastructures (among others), which is demanding reliable high rates for underwater links. As it can be observed, standard acoustic communications show someimportant limitations that can not cope with this kind of challenges.
- Other important point is focused on a certain key application, environmental monitoring: it is generally accepted that acoustic communications are unbeatable in deep sea water communications with remote sites, no power limitations and not high demanded data rates. However, the project scenario is shallow water (close to the shore in sea water or fresh water like rivers, dams or reservoirs) where acoustic systems show much worse performance. In our opinion, an electromagnetic communications framework is the only alternative that makes sense in this scenario.
- And finally, a change of paradigm due to very important advances in different fields coming from new effective antennas, new considerations regarding the attenuation of alternative propagation paths and DSP (Digital Signal Processors) developments. The project commits important contributions regarding 1) the antenna design, 2) the propagation model, 3) design of communication systems operating in the low power regime and very importantly, 4) a new paradigm where we envision that underwater communications will be based on a set of numerous static devices and also UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles) that permit to save the attenuation limitation using multihop communication protocols. Indeed, this network will be able to improve standard detection or estimation procedures by information fusion and distributed consensus / diffusion algorithms allowing additional functionalities like self-localization, tracking of moving vehicles and navigation guidance.
All these achievements will be carried out as a combination of theoretical contributions, measurement campaigns, modeling, and software and hardware developments. In fact, the main value of this project is the balance between all these aspects to ultimately create an operative Underwater Wireless Sensor Networks (UWSN) to be properly prototyped towards the technological transfer to interested companies. This big challenge is feasible just due to the combination of backgrounds and complementary skills of the three involved institutions: the Poyltechnic University of Madrid (UPM), as roject coordinator and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) and the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands as associated partners.
The UNDERWORLD Project is co-funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (50%) and by the European Regional Development Fund (50%) in the scope of the Research, Development and Innovation program focused on the Society Challenges in the framework of the Scientific, Technic and Innovation Plan 2013-2016, section 1: “Research Challenges”, R+D+I Projects, Call 2013.