£1.2m project to create UK underwater data network

£1.2m project to create UK underwater data network

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The University of Plymouth in the UK is leading a £1.2m (€1.5m) project to create an underwater data network at Smart Sound Plymouth.

A network of acoustic modems will boost the body of water as a proving ground for businesses to test, trial, prototype and commercialise autonomous underwater systems and services.

There is already a ‘wave relay’ mesh of 4G and 5G wireless across the water, developed with Steatite and Vodafone that reaches 20 miles out to sea, and along with the Plymouth Marine Laboratory will install an underwater acoustic communications network.

“The Smart Sound Connect Subsurface network will integrate into the existing advanced surface networks to deliver a fully connected environment; combining underwater, surface, and aerial platforms to deliver a world leading testbed for marine autonomy,” said Dr James Fishwick, Head of Smart Sound Plymouth at Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

In addition, the project will see new specialist lab facilities at City College Plymouth’s Centre for Higher Technical and Maritime Skills at Oceansgate. This will support training and development opportunities that will create a pipeline of engineers via a range of full-time, part-time, apprenticeship and T-Level based study routes.

The network is a key element of the National Centre for Coastal Automony, the UK’s first autonomous fully integrated coastal observing and monitoring network, which will employ the latest autonomous boats and submarines.

“If we are to fully unleash the potential of advanced marine technologies, state of the art communications will be essential,” said Dr Alex Nimmo Smith, Associate Professor in Marine Physics at the University of Plymouth. “This will deliver a unique subsea communications network within Smart Sound Plymouth. It will also help to train the next generation of engineers and innovators, who will be crucial to maintaining the city’s place at the forefront of this industry.”

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