Experimental evaluation of a low cost acoustic communication system for AUVs
Reilly, Kevin D.
Healey, Anthony J.
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As the Navy has refocused its goals towards littoral warfare, mine countermeasures have become an area of special interest. The Naval Postgraduate School is developing an autonomous underwater vehicle to map shallow water minefields--a vital role in the Navy's overall plan for mine countermeasures. A key feature of the vehicle is its low cost, and to this end it uses a commercially available system called 'DiveTracker' for precise acoustic navigation and communication. This research experimentally evaluated the reliability of the DiveTracker communication system in conditions approximating those for which the vehicle is designed. It was concluded that highly reliable communication of short commands will be restricted to relatively short separation distances between nodes. The very shallow water acoustic channel is highly variant in both signal attenuation and background noise levels. The maximum range is limited by the background noise while the probability of correct message reception depends on the received signal to noise ratio. Initial data indicates that the low cost unit under development cannot communicate beyond 500 meters with a probability of a single roundtrip success greater than 34 percent. Several options are available for its improvement.
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