Strategic research domains

UWIN-LABUST will achieve excellence in Internet of Underwater Things through three main Strategic Research Domains (SRDs):

SRD 1. Underwater sensor communications

With applications in underwater monitoring, disaster prevention and assisted navigation, underwater wireless sensor networks (UWSN) have become key, since their spatial distribution allows for effective and real-time coverage.

SRD1.1. Underwater communication networks. To allow IoUT, solutions will be developed to solve challenges in managing the scheduling, data transfer, and interference control of the mesh network. Special consideration will be given to the mobility of the nodes, and to the expected low reliability.

SRD1.2. Underwater communication technologies. Supporting the IoUT, acoustic communications techniques will be investigated for mitigating mutual interferences, overcoming anthropogenic noises, and obtaining network security. Design will also include hybrid opto-acoustic and multi-band solutions.

SRD1.3. Environmental sensing technologies. UWSN can enable data retrieval from environmental sensors. Communication between the sensors can assist in data management and contribute to the sensor’s durability.

SRD 2. Underwater acoustic signal processing

Data sensing involves quality assurance, data analysis, and data fusion (from multiple sources to produce more consistent information). The techniques involved are localization, pattern identification, and classification.

SRD 2.1. Acoustic-Optic Multimodal. Combining acoustic and optical modalities is a challenging task, but offers unique sensing capabilities with applications in event-triggering, seabed characterization, and water quality analysis.

SRD 2.2. Sonar image processing. Underwater sonar imaging allows detection and classification for the construction of bathymetric information; search for sunken vessels and evidence of submerged settlements due to the rise of the oceans for marine archaeology; and aiding marine infrastructures in e.g., pipeline monitoring and threat detection. The need is for real-time operation to allow full autonomous operations of un-manned vehicles with blind characterization to manage the non-homogeneous seabed structure and the scarcity of diverse sonar datasets.

SRD 2.3. Acoustic localization. Geo-referencing is crucial for data collection, which  often uses acoustic beacons to acquire position fixes. Signal processing analysis can handle challenges such as non-line-of-sight (LOS) mistaken as LOS due to multipath, mismatches in the sound speed profile, and positioning ambiguities due to under-ranked sensing. For tracking, combination with inertial measurements offers improvement in terms of observability.

SRD 3. Underwater collaborative autonomy

Long-term underwater presence includes utilization of alternative energy sources and storages for long term operation, optimization of on-board power consumption as well as collaborative operation capabilities.

SRD 3.1. Energy harvesting. Autonomous systems with an on-board power supply system extend mission duration, drive the research of self-powered sensors and sensing networks using new mechanical energy harvesting materials; systems for energy harvesting from temperature differences at various ocean depths or from ambient acoustic noise. The problem is also approached by using energy-aware adaptive sampling algorithms.

SRD 3.2. Low-power systems. Processing, communication and actuation require power optimization and multi-stage processing for operation of long-term sensors such as acoustic release and recorders..

SRD 3.3 Collaborative operation. The low capabilities of IoUT devices calls for collaborative sensing and analysis to exploit temporal and spatial diversities, but must also consider low-comm availability, power limitations, and location uncertainties. Distributed solutions for optimization, data augmentation, and fuzzy logic are also required.