A graph localization approach for underwater sensor networks to assist a diver in distress

Roee Diamant, Roberto Francescon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we focus on the problem of locating a scuba diver in distress using a sensor network. Without GPS reception, submerged divers in distress will transmit SOS messages using underwater acoustic communication. The study goal is to enable the quick and reliable location of a diver in distress by his fellow scuba divers. To this purpose, we propose a distributed scheme that relies on the propagation delay information of these acoustic SOS messages in the scuba divers’ network to yield a range and bearing evaluation to the diver in distress by any neighboring diver. We formalize the task as a non-convex, multi-objective graph localization constraint optimization problem. The solution finds the best configuration of the nodes’ graph under constraints in the form of upper and lower bounds derived from the inter-connections between the graph nodes/divers. Considering the need to rapidly propagate the SOS information, we flood the network with the SOS packet, while also using rateless coding to leverage information from colliding packets, and to utilize time instances when collisions occur for propagation delay evaluation. Numerical results show a localization accuracy on the order of a few meters, which contributes to quickly locating the diver in distress. Similar results were demonstrated in a controlled experiment in a water tank, and by playback data from a sea experiment for five network topologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1306
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number4
StatePublished - 11 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported in part by the MOST-BMBF German-Israeli Cooperation in Marine Sciences 2018-2020 (Grant # 3-16573), and by the MOST action for Agriculture, Environment, and Water for the year 2019 (Grant # 3-16728).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Graph localization
  • SOS transmission
  • Underwater acoustic communication
  • Underwater acoustic networks
  • Underwater localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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