Nowadays, the increasing availability of commercial off-the-shelf underwater acoustic and non-acoustic (e.g., optical and electromagnetic) modems that can be employed for both short-range broadband and long-range low-rate communication, the increasing level of autonomy of underwater vehicles, and the refinement of their underwater navigation systems pave the way for several new applications, such as data muling from underwater sensor networks and the transmission of real-time video streams underwater. In addition, these new developments inspired many companies to start designing hybrid wireless-driven underwater vehicles specifically tailored for off-shore operations and that are able to behave either as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) or as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), depending on both the type of mission they are required to perform and the limitations imposed by underwater communication channels. In this paper, we evaluate the actual quality of service (QoS) achievable with an underwater wireless-piloted vehicle, addressing the realistic aspects found in the underwater domain, first reviewing the current state-of-the-art of communication technologies and then proposing the list of application streams needed for control of the underwater vehicle, grouping them in different working modes according to the level of autonomy required by the off-shore mission. The proposed system is finally evaluated by employing the DESERT Underwater simulation framework by specifically analyzing the QoS that can be provided to each application stream when using a multimodal underwater communication system specifically designed to support different traffic-based QoSs. Both the analysis and the results show that changes in the underwater environment have a strong impact on the range and on the stability of the communication link.
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