muNET Project

CCRI: Medium: Collaborative Research: mu-Net: Infrastructure toAdvance Mobile Underwater Wireless Networking Research

Overview: This project develops a community-shared, open-source, open-architecture infrastructure, mu-Net, for mobile underwater wireless networks. The infrastructure consists of 1) re-configurable software suites for simulations and emulation, 2) miniaturized aquatic robots for lab tests, 3) commercial-off-the-shelf autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for field tests, and 4) user services to support shared usage. The project goal is to establish an open ecosystem that can support research and education agendas across communities of acoustic communications, underwater networks, aquatic robotics, and data sciences.

The aquatic environments, including the oceans, lakes, and rivers, are the basis for life. The next research frontier is to use fleets of aquatic robots, both ASVs and AUVs, to perform distributed sampling in the aquatic environments. Currently, there are no shared, open infrastructures available to support related research. Proprietary infrastructures, which are housed in premier laboratories in governments or top universities, are built for specific operational missions, lacking the needed flexibility.

mu-Net uses a service-oriented, non-hierarchical software architecture, with a goal to support integrated sensing, communications, and navigation. The infrastructure is designed to break down several barriers that are the root causes of the slow progress and low participation of mobile underwater sensor network research. First, it breaks down the cost and effort barriers, meaning that it supports low-cost laboratory tests and field validation. Second, it breaks down the interface barrier, supporting two main autonomy software suites (ROS and MOOS) and different hardware instruments. Third, it breaks down the networking-robotics disciplinary barrier and promotes the marriage between the two fields.

Four development thrusts include 1)software development, 2) testbed development, 3) integration, testing, and evaluation, and 4) service development. The envisioned infrastructure will serve as an anchor towards better integration of the research related to mobile underwater wireless networking, and facilitate the generation of a new interdisciplinary research community. The infrastructure will be developed and managed jointly by the research team that contains experts from all related domains. Existing resources and instruments from the investigators will be heavily leveraged to ensure the success of infrastructure development.

Community-shared, open-source, open-architecture infrastructure, with a goal is to establish an ecosystem that can support research/education agendas across CISE communities including:

  • Miniaturized aquatic robots for lab tests==>indoor testbed
  • Field-deployable autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for field deployments==>lake testbed
  • Re-configurable software suites, µNet software
  • Various resources & services to support the usage from the community users

Indoor testbed for swarming/networking

  • Main assets (miniaturized robots): GT-OSV (a) + GT-MUR (b) + acoustic modems
  • Deployment setup in a swimming pool (c)
  • Goal: Remote automatic access, aqua-robotarium.

Lake testbed for underwater communications/networking

  • Main assets: Autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) (a) + EcoMapper-AUVs (b)
  • Field deployment site (c): 20-m depth (Lake of Tuscaloosa)
  • Deployment setup in the lake (d)
  • Goal: Manned service
The following institutions are key performers:

Project personnel at the University of Alabama:

  • Dr. Aijun Song, Project PI
  • Dr. Xiaoyan Hong, PI
  • Qiang Fu, PhD student
  • Shuai Dong, PhD student
Project Personnel at Georgia Institute of Technology:
  • Prof. Fumin Zhang, PI
  • Scott Mayberry, PhD student
Project Personnel at City College of New York:
  • Dr. Zheng Peng, sub-award PI
  • Dmitrii Dugaev, PhD student
Project Personnel at Michigan Technological University:
  • Dr. Zhaohui Wang, senior personnel
Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation