Mar 102011
 

Given the deepwater working conditions endured by submarines, one of the last things most people would want to do is drill holes through their hulls.

That’s exactly what is necessary, however, to allow power and data to flow to and from audio and other sensors mounted on the exterior of the vessels. Not only do these holes present a leakage risk, but they also diminish the hull’s structural integrity, and the submarine must be hoisted into drydock in order for any new sensors to be added. Now, a doctoral student at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has come up with a method of using ultrasound to transmit power and data wirelessly through a sub’s thick metal hull – no holes required.

The system, created by RPI Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering student Tristan Lawry, utilizes piezoelectric transducers to convert electrical signals into acoustic signals and vice versa. Power and data are relayed via separate non-interfering ultrasonic channels. Conventional electromagnetic wireless technology, by contrast, is thwarted by the shielding effect of metal hulls.

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