Abstract In this paper, we investigate the creation of an underwater acoustic network to support marine operations based on static and mobile nodes. Each underwater device combines communication, networking, and sensing capabilities and cooperates with the other devices in
coordinated missions. The proposed system is built upon the SUNSET framework, providing acoustic communications and networking capabilities to autonomous underwater vehicles, autonomous surface vessels, and moored systems, using underwater acoustic modems. Specific solutions have been developed
and tested to control the underwater nodes acoustically and to instruct the vehicles on keeping a given formation using acoustic links. One of the novelties of our approach has been the development and utilization of a realistic simulation infrastructure to provide a very accurate representation
of all the dynamic systems involved in the network, modeling the vehicle dynamics, the acoustic channel, and the communication messages. This infrastructure has been extensively used to investigate and validate the proposed solutions under different environmental conditions before the actual
deployment of devices. Several experiments were then conducted in the laboratory and in the field. The experimental results have confirmed the effectiveness of the proposed solutions and the reliability of the proposed simulation framework in estimating system performance.
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