Marine and Environment


REU Scholar: Oriana Matney

REU Scholar Home Institution: Florida State University

REU Scholar: Batsheva Gil

REU Scholar Home Institution: Florida State University

REU Scholar: Connor Rieth

REU Scholar Home Institution: University of Central Florida

REU Mentor: Georgios Sklivanitis, Ph.D.

Project: Development of a Wireless Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle


Wireless remote control of a single or a fleet of underwater vehicles by a single human operator will offer the opportunity to collect more data than a single ship/vehicle and effectively carry out operations such as subsea mapping, search-and-rescue and infrastructure monitoring, to name a few. Commercial underwater modems are large to fit small-size submersibles, prohibitively expensive for large-scale deployments and typically closed source which limits their interoperability with other sensors and therefore their application in research. In this project, we focus on establishing wireless communication between a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and a surface station using an in-house built underwater acoustic modem and an affordable underwater ROV. The endeavor involves a systematic approach, encompassing research, simulation, experimentation, and hardware design. Our research explored radio, optical and acoustic communication methods for wireless underwater vehicles and hybrid underwater vehicles, with acoustic-based communication being chosen for its reliability and long range. Additionally, we considered a hybrid vehicle as a short-term goal, facilitating a gradual transition from tethered to fully wireless systems. To assess wireless communication performance we built a high-fidelity simulation framework using MATLAB, Python and HoloOcean -an underwater robotics simulator based on Unreal Engine. We first tested Binary Frequency Shift Keying (BFSK) in MATLAB-which is one of the communication modes tested experimentally with the first generation of the FAU underwater modem-for communication between the surface station and the ROV. We tested both an ideal communication channel and an underwater channel model that attenuates the BFSK signals based on environmental parameters that are provided by HoloOcean. To assess the viability of command and controlling the ROV we simulate the MAVLink protocol that generates the messages to be exchanged between the ROV and the surface station. These messages are then exchanged over the simulated BFSK transceiver and underwater channel. Finally, to evaluate the feasibility of deploying a fleet of ROVs we designed and constructed a small, lightweight, low-cost ROV. This ROV will serve as the platform to test swarm acoustic networking technology in future work.