Elias Strandell Erstorp
The large masses of water making up the oceans are undoubtedly of great importance to everything living on earth. However, they remain relatively unexplored – some say we know less about the oceans than our solar system!
To alleviate the cost and risks associated with ocean exploration, researchers utilize autonomous vehicles to a larger extent. Within the SMaRC, we want to push the level of autonomy of unmanned vehicles further and work toward fleets of jointly operating vehicles. Essential for joint operation is the vehicles’ ability to communicate.
However, communication in water is difficult. The only available means of communication at long distances underwater is, just like whales, using acoustic signals.
But this way of communication comes with a set of challenges, of which a few examples are:
- Low bitrate in the range of 0.1-10 kbit/s.
- Long propagation time from A to B because of low sound speed (1500 m/s).
- Variations in sound speed cause sound to take different paths and may not reach the intended receiver.
One aspect of my research involves what type of information must be shared by vehicles and stand-alone sensors during various missions. Another aspect is how to get the data from its source to its destination while considering the mentioned challenges.
Successful communication ultimately means we’ll get to know more about our oceans – may be as much as our solar system!