Team: Ann Chia (MSE), Anthony Yan (ME), Eric Stern (ME), Liam Doran (ME)
Advisors: Reza Alam (ME), Alexandre Immas (ME)
With current technology, even planets that are light years away had been mapped out with higher resolution than most of the seafloor on Earth. Limited by low bandwidth underwater communication, sonar is the traditional approach for underwater communication. Our team aims to use optical communication to create low cost, high bandwidth means of underwater networking between swarms of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) for wireless communication. By modulating lasers at high frequencies, and through advanced control methods, we aim to transmit data across large stretches of open ocean at vastly faster speeds than traditional methods. Specifically, our group has been building onto our research lab’s existing UUVs to design, build, and integrate a wireless means of communicating through lasers in open ocean environments.
Transforming Deep-Sea Exploration:
Underwater optical communication replaces traditional sonar technology and allows for high bandwidths, which drastically improves the quality and speed of information transmission underwater. Our approach enables technologies that were previously impossible, for example, underwater video streaming; this expands the horizons of deep-sea research and can provide new insights into marine ecology.
Underwater Optical Communication:
Optical signals are transmitted using a laser and controlled through a MEMs driver. Receiving signals are sent through a beam splitter to the position sensitive device (PSD) and photodiode. This dynamic tracking system allows for robust feedback control and data communication. The optical communications components are integrated into an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) in a compact form factor.
By refining our laser feedback-controls algorithm, and integrating our communications system into the AUV prototype, we aim to demonstrate a proof-of-concept of wireless communication between a moving and a stationary drone.
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