Underwater WiFi!


For years, Jim Trezzo has been talking about his hopes and dreams for bringing an acoustic modem into the OpenROV fold. And for the past few days, a lot of other folks have been talking about it as well (and emailing me links).

The BBC reported on the team of researchers from the University of Buffalo:

"[T]he University of Buffalo team is attempting to create a shared standard.

"A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyse data from our oceans in real time," said Tommaso Melodia, lead researcher.

"Making this information available to anyone with a smartphone or computer, especially when a tsunami or other type of disaster occurs, could help save lives."

The test was carried out at Lake Erie, near Buffalo. The research team dropped two 40lb (18kg) sensors into the water - and were then able to use a laptop to transmit information to them.

In future, the team hopes the sensors could be used to help detect and solve environmental issues. With a shared standard, different research groups with varied equipment could potentially combine their data gathering efforts with greater ease, and in real-time.

More details of the team's work will be presented at a conference for underwater networking to be held in Taiwan next month."

For, you know, predicting Tsunamis and detecting clandestine narco subs.


I read this as well and am thinking about the impact to marine life. I think this is a good idea, however, it's one thing to have a small, limited range communications system, but the longer range ones (or at least the ELF navy communications systems) tend to interfere with marine life/navigation/etc. I feel we need more research into varying acoustic frequencies and biological impacts before we start deploying networks below the surface. Our fisheries and marine reserves are in enough danger at present. We need to build these networks such that as soon as we see an adverse affect on marine life, we can quickly modify the system to lesson or more hopefully negate the impact overall.



underwater modem design


Great project page. Thanks!


I was able to transmit 110 baud data over short distances using the ceramic ring transducers discussed in this paper from UCSD: http://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~kastner/papers/oceans10-low_cost_modem.pdf I used the old EXAR modem chips and just dipped the transducers in plastic dip as I don't have the capabilities to work with surface mount devices like UCSD. I think considerable work has been done in trying to establish slow speed networks to support AUVs by WHOI and others. I don't know of anything that can support real time video that doesn't require a fiber or wire connection, although I did see one company that said they have achieved 100K baud data rates. If I find the reference I'll post it.