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Underwater Optical Communications

Inventors: Casey Machado, Lee Freitag, Andy Bowen, Norman E. Farr
Publication No. US8953944 B2

Overview: Ocean observatories are deployed at the seafloor and connected by cable or buoy to surface networks. These seafloor observatories may be located many hundreds of kilometers off the coast of the nearest shore station and may be positioned at depths of over 5000 meters. Typically, the observatory has one or more network connections to shore stations through which data collected from the seafloor observatory may be passed onto the Internet and which may serve seafloor instruments with power and control commands. However, these are dedicated connections and do not offer any options for reconfigurable long-range connection of a seafloor observatory to another seafloor observatory, or another shore station. Accordingly, there is a need for an easy to deploy underwater communication system that is readily reconfigurable.

Technology: These Underwater Optical Communications provide a reconfigurable, long-range, optical modem-based underwater communication network. In particular, the network provides a low power, low cost, and easy to deploy underwater optical communication system capable of being operated at long distances. Optical modem-based communication offer high data rate, omni-directional spatial communication in the visual spectrum. The omni-directional aspect of communication is advantageous because precise alignment of communication units may not be required. The optical modems may be deployed via unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and physically connected by tethers.