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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (M.S.Eng.)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Basha

First Committee Member

Carrick Detweiler

Second Committee Member

Ken Hughes


More than 70% of Earth's surface is covered by water. Earth's underwater world holds many exciting forms of life and undiscovered possibilities. It is sometimes referred to as "The Unexplored Frontier." We still do not fully understand the entirety of what happens in this mysterious world. The field of underwater sensor networks is a means of monitoring these environments. However, underwater sensor networks are still fraught with challenges; one of the main challenges being communication. In this thesis we look to improve communication in underwater sensor networks. We expand a simulation environment that models node to node communication in an underwater sensor network that utilizes AquaNodes. We address issues with the first iteration of the environment, expand it to include packet-loss for acoustic communication, and make the addition of three dimensional topologies. We found that acoustic packet-loss had a larger impact on the energy consumption of the communication algorithms with more acoustic communication and three dimensional topologies do not affect the communication algorithms. In addition to expanding the simulation environment we also explore using UAVs as a means of extracting data out of underwater sensor network. We conduct field experiments to characterize radio communication, develop an energy model to understand the energy limitations of an UAV, and develop overall policies for using an UAV with an underwater sensor network that utilizes AquaNodes. We learned that node to node radio communication range on the surface of the water had shorter ranges than on land. We also learned that node to UAV communication range was dependant on the altitude of the UAV. Overall, we found that using an UAV as a data mule was a viable method of extracting data out of certain underwater sensor network configurations.





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