To monitor ocean and seafloor properties in detail, sensors are generally installed on autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). An AUV cannot accurately determine its absolute position and needs to communicate with a sea-surface vehicle. However, sea-surface vehicles cannot perform high-speed observations with high efficiency due to their low mobility and high labor and equipment costs, e.g., vessel charter charges, operator restraint time on the sea surface during observations, etc. From this perspective, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have potential as the next-generation communication platform. In this study, we conducted a demonstration experiment to use UAV as a sea-surface base for underwater communication with an AUV. We investigated the capability of a UAV to land on the sea surface, drift like a buoy to receive underwater data, and finally lift off to return to its base. The experimental results suggest that UAVs provide suitable communication performance for research near the shore in terms of robust hovering control, stability against sway, and operation speed. To carry out more complicated work (such as transportation) of UAVs, further research in areas such as weight reduction is required.
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