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Data Muling Approach for Long-Range Broadband Underwater Communications

Teixeira, FB; Moreira, N; Campos, R; Ricardo, M;

International Conference on Wireless and Mobile Computing, Networking and Communications

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are widely used as a cost-effective mean to carry out underwater missions. During long-Term missions, AUVs may collect large amounts of data that usually needs to be sent to shore. An AUV may have to travel several kilometers before reaching an area of interest near the seafloor, thus surfacing is unpractical for most cases. Long-range underwater communications rely mostly on acoustic communications, which are characterized by very low bitrates, thus making the transfer of large amounts of data too slow. GROW is a novel solution for long-range, high bitrate underwater wireless communications between a survey unit (e.g., deep sea lander, AUV) and a central station at surface. GROW combines AUVs as data mules, short-range high bitrate wireless RF or optical communications, and long-range low bitrate acoustic communications for control.In this paper we present the Underwater Data Muling Protocol (UDMP), a communications protocol that enables the control and the scheduling of the Data Mule Units within the GROW framework. Experimental results obtained using an underwater testbed show that the use of UDMP and data mules can outperform acoustic communications, achieving equivalent throughput up to 150 times higher within the typical range of operation of the latter. © 2019 IEEE.