Localization is an indispensable technology for underwater wireless sensor networks (UWSNs). In what concerns UWSNs, the accurate location information is not only the requirement of the marine field applications but also the basis of the other corresponding research, for instance, network routing and topology control. Recently, an astonishing surge of interest has been drawn in the received signal strength (RSS)-based scheme due to cost-effectiveness and synchronization-free compared with others. However, unlike the terrestrial wireless sensor networks (WSNs), the acoustic signal may suffer the absorption loss in the underwater environment besides the path loss, which degrades the localization accuracy and limits the capability of the RSS-based technology in UWSNs. In this context, a robust localization method with an absorption mitigation technique (AMT) is developed. First, an RSS-based analytically tractable measurement model is conducted, where the maximum likelihood estimator (MLE) is derived. Nevertheless, it is quite challenging to solve the problem using MLE under a non-convex expression. Therefore, by exploiting certain approximations, the considered localization problem is converted into an optimization expression with a maximum absorption loss involved. A min–max strategy is then presented, with which the problem is turned to minimize the worst situation of the absorption loss. After a simple manipulation, the problem is further investigated as a generalized trust region sub-problem (GTRS) framework. Although the GTRS is a non-convex scheme, the solution can be obtained through an iteration method by introducing a multiplier. In addition, the closed-form expression of the Cramer–Rao lower bound (CRLB) of the analytically tractable measurement model is derived. Numerical simulations demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method compared with the state-of-the-art approaches in different scenarios.
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