School of Engineering

Underwater Communications

Underwater Communications

Over many years, this theme has demonstrated unique expertise in wireless communications for extreme environments.

The Theme is a centre of research excellence in this area and has established a state-of-the-art Sensors, Electromagnetic and Acoustics Laboratory (SEALAB) to develop robust communication methods through severe channels such as underwater and metal.

Research achievements in underwater communications include acoustic signal communication with data rates up to 32 Kbit/sec and signal transmission over distances up to 10 km. The technology developed by the theme can be used in personal location transmitters or to control underwater vehicles as well as data logging and video transmission.

In the area of through metal communications, the Theme has used novel acoustic technology to enable data rates of up to 1 Mbit/s through metal walls of 80 mm thickness. At this level of bandwidth video transmission is possible in addition to data communications.

This approach can be used as acoustic gateways to facilitate wireless networking onboard ships and large metal containers.

‌The main research interests in this area are focused on efficient signal processing transceiver and networking algorithms for underwater communications.

Its mission is to develop communication technologies that allow high-speed, robust and power efficient underwater telemetry, instrumentation, control and localisation for fixed sensors and underwater vehicles.

Over the last two decades, a broad range of demodulation techniques have been developed and tested by sea trials. They used unique Doppler compensation methods that are common in both academia as a benchmark reference, and in commercial modem products in industry. Research in this area has been funded by the European Union, EPSRC and the Subsea industry.

The Theme is a centre of research excellence in this area and has established a state-of-the-art Subsea, Electromagnetic and Acoustics Laboratory (SEALAB) to develop robust communication methods through severe doubly spread underwater channels.

Research work in this area is extensively disseminated in high impact peer-reviewed journals and at esteemed international conferences, where we also regularly offer professional tutorials such as in IEEE OCEANS and IEEE International Conference on Communications.

‌The projects currently under investigation include:

  • adaptive modulation and coding for micro ROV acoustic links
  • Doppler compensation for OFDM based systems
  • iterative receivers design and error correction codes
  • interleaved division multiple access
  • physical-layer network coding
  • covert communications
  • optical underwater communications
  • routing methods for underwater networks
  • EU FP7 project CADDY to develop communication and tracking technology for an autonomous diver assistance vehicle
  • Dolphin Alarms which sound if a child or non-swimmer falls into water