Sunrise: here the Internet of Underwater Things

whalesA new challenging project might drastically shift the under water wi-fi connection. We are talking about Sunrise, an idea boosted by the University of La Sapienza of Rome, Italy, and supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme. Thanks to this innovative project, underwater  robots will be able to work following instructions received, and send back data through a brand new method. ‘The gap in our knowledge of the underwater world is extensive. We know so little despite the fact that the marine ecosystems are central to the health of our planet and vital to our economies”,project leader Dr. Chiara Petrioli said.

Identifying threats to oil and gas pipelines, monitoring the environment, protecting archeological sites and finding out more about the geology of our planet:  these are some of the numberless ways in which teams of aquatic robots could help us learn more. "The list is as extensive as our imagination” added Dr Petrioli, who presented the Sunrise Project as part of a panel on "Privacy, security and societal implications of IoT (Internet of Things)", in Rome, on October 29th 2014.

The technology behind WiFi cannot be used underwater, since it is based on radio waves which propagate through the air. "Communication technologies that are usually taken for granted - continues Dr. Petrioli - cannot be brought directly into the ocean environment. The radio waves would work only within a few feet. We must, therefore, follow the same mode of communication used by animals that live in that world - such as whales and dolphins - which use acoustic communications. The idea – Dr. Petrioli added - is to let the bits travel through sound waves, but implementing standards that do not disturb the communication between cetaceans".

This project, in addition to the university La Sapienza in Rome, involves the Nato Science and Technology Organization Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation of La Spezia, Evologics (a European company that makes acoustic modems), the University of Twente in the Netherlands and the University of Porto, Portogal, Suasis, a Turkish company, Nexse, an Italian systems integrator, as well as the University at Buffalo State in the US.