Survey on Communication and Networks for Autonomous Marine Systems

  • Artur Zolich
  • David Palma
  • Kimmo Kansanen
  • Kay Fjørtoft
  • João Sousa
  • Karl H. Johansson
  • Yuming Jiang
  • Hefeng Dong
  • Tor A. Johansen
Open Access


The rapid development of autonomous systems and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) create new opportunities for maritime activities. Existing autonomous systems are becoming more powerful and utilise the capabilities of several types of devices such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) – sometimes referred as Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASVs) –, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), moored and drifting systems and, recently emerging, autonomous vessels. Their importance in providing new services in maritime environments is undeniable and the opportunity for coordinated and interconnected operations is clear. However, continuous wide integration of various technologies in maritime environments still faces many challenges. Operations may take place in remote locations, so that dependence on third-party infrastructures such as satellite communication or terrestrial communication systems must be expected. The reliability, performance, availability, and cost of such systems are important issues that need to be tackled. This work reviews the major advancements on state-of-the-art autonomous maritime vehicles and systems, which are used in several different scenarios, from scientific research to transportation. Moreover, the paper highlights how available technologies can be composed in order to efficiently and effectively operate in maritime environments. Highlights of the trade-off between autonomy and communication requirements are provided and followed by an overview of promising communication and networking technologies that could encourage the integration of autonomous systems in maritime scenarios.


Marine technology Autonomous vehicles Oceanographic techniques Communication systems Computer networks 



This work was partially funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 699924.

The Research Council of Norway is acknowledged as the main sponsor of NTNU AMOS (Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems), grant number 223254, and the project Hybrid Operations in Maritime Environments (HOME) funded by the MAROFF programme, grant number 269480.

The work has been supported by the light house project CAMOS of the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, NTNU.


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Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (NTNU-AMOS), Department of Engineering CyberneticsNorwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, NTNUTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Information Security and Communication TechnologyNTNUTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Department of Electronic SystemsNTNUTrondheimNorway
  4. 4.SINTEF OceanTrondheimNorway
  5. 5.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringPorto UniversityPortoPortugal
  6. 6.School of Electrical EngineeringKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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