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A Novel Simulation Platform for Underwater Data Muling Communications Using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Teixeira F.B.; Ferreira B.M.; Moreira N.; Abreu N.; Villa M.; Loureiro J.P.; Cruz N.A.; Alves J.C.; Ricardo M.; Campos R.;


Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are seen as a safe and cost-effective platforms for performing a myriad of underwater missions. These vehicles are equipped with multiple sensors which, combined with their long endurance, can produce large amounts of data, especially when used for video capturing. These data need to be transferred to the surface to be processed and analyzed. When considering deep sea operations, where surfacing before the end of the mission may be unpractical, the communication is limited to low bitrate acoustic communications, which make unfeasible the timely transmission of large amounts of data unfeasible. The usage of AUVs as data mules is an alternative communications solution. Data mules can be used to establish a broadband data link by combining short-range, high bitrate communications (e.g., RF and wireless optical) with a Delay Tolerant Network approach. This paper presents an enhanced version of UDMSim, a novel simulation platform for data muling communications. UDMSim is built upon a new realistic AUV Motion and Localization (AML) simulator and Network Simulator 3 (ns-3). It can simulate the position of the data mules, including localization errors, realistic position control adjustments, the received signal, the realistic throughput adjustments, and connection losses due to the fast SNR change observed underwater. The enhanced version includes a more realistic AML simulator and the antenna radiation patterns to help evaluating the design and relative placement of underwater antennas. The results obtained using UDMSim show a good match with the experimental results achieved using an underwater testbed. UDMSim is made available to the community to support easy and faster evaluation of underwater data muling oriented communications solutions and to enable offline replication of real world experiments.