AI brings underwater internet to submerged Roman ruins
Hardwired systems are the most reliable, but they are difficult to maintain and cover a limited operational area. And wireless internet doesn’t work well in water, because of the way water interacts with electromagnetic waves. Scientists have tried optical and acoustic waves, but light and sound are not effective forms of wireless underwater communication: water temperature, salinity, waves and noise can alter signals when they move between devices.
Davidde therefore teamed up with a group of engineers led by Chiara Petrioli, professor at Sapienza University and director of Sapienza’s spin-off, WSense, a startup specializing in underwater surveillance and communication systems. Petrioli’s team has developed a network of acoustic modems and wireless underwater sensors capable of collecting environmental data and transmitting it ashore in real time. “We can now monitor the site remotely and at any time,” explains Davidde.
Their system relies on AI algorithms to constantly change the network protocol. As sea conditions change, the algorithms alter the path of information from node to node, allowing the signal to travel up to two kilometers. The system can send data between transmitters a kilometer apart at one kilobit per second and reaches tens of megabits per second over shorter distances, says Petrioli. This bandwidth is sufficient to transmit environmental data collected by sensors anchored to the seabed, such as images and information on water quality, pressure and temperature; metallic, chemical and biological elements; and noise, currents, waves and tides.
At Baiae, the underwater internet allows remote and continuous monitoring of environmental conditions such as pH and carbon dioxide levels, which can influence the growth of microorganisms that can disfigure artifacts. Additionally, it allows divers to communicate with each other and with colleagues above the surface, who can also use technology to locate them with high accuracy.
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