Skip to Main Content
Underwater wireless communications can enable many scientific, environmental, commercial, safety, and military applications. Wireless signal transmission is also crucial to remotely control instruments in ocean observatories and to enable coordination of swarms of autonomous underwater vehicles and robots, which will play the role of mobile nodes in future ocean observation networks by virtue of their flexibility and reconfigurability. To make underwater applications viable, efficient communication protocols among underwater devices, which are based on acoustic wireless technology for distances over one hundred meters, must be enabled because of the high attenuation and scattering that affect radio and optical waves, respectively. The unique characteristics of an underwater acoustic channel - such as very limited and distance-dependent bandwidth, high propagation delays, and time-varying multipath and fading - require new, efficient and reliable communication protocols to network multiple devices, either static or mobile, potentially over multiple hops. In this article, we provide an overview of recent medium access control, routing, transport, and cross-layer networking protocols.