Turkish Journal of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences




Underwater control applications, especially ones using autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have become very popular for industrial and military underwater exploration missions. This has led to the requirement of establishing a high data rate communication link between base stations and AUVs, while underwater systems mostly rely on acoustic communications. However, limited data rate and considerable propagation delay are the major challenges for employing acoustic communication in missions requiring high control gains. In this paper, we propose a hybrid acoustic and RF communication framework for establishing a networked control system, in which, for long distance communication and control the acoustic link is used, and in the short range, the RF link is employed. Our scenario for testing implements a docking maneuver application, where a docking station determines the positions of the AUVs via acoustic or RF communication, and different medium access schemes are used for coordinating the transmission of the nodes according to the communication mode. Considering the full dynamics of the entire system for controlling the AUVs, the real-time behavior of the underwater networked control system is evaluated realistically using our proposed integrated cosimulation environment, which includes different simulators. Our performance results indicate that under calm water conditions, our proposed hybrid system reduces the docking time by 33% compared to the acoustic-only.

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