Major challenges are presented when managing a large number of heterogeneous vehicles that have to communicate underwater in order to complete a global mission in a cooperative manner. In this kind of application domain, sending data through the environment presents issues that surpass the ones found in other overwater, distributed, cyber-physical systems (i.e., low bandwidth, unreliable transport medium, data representation and hardware high heterogeneity). This manuscript presents a Publish/Subscribe-based semantic middleware solution for unreliable scenarios and vehicle interoperability across cooperative and heterogeneous autonomous vehicles. The middleware relies on different iterations of the Data Distribution Service (DDS) software standard and their combined work between autonomous maritime vehicles and a control entity. It also uses several components with different functionalities deemed as mandatory for a semantic middleware architecture oriented to maritime operations (device and service registration, context awareness, access to the application layer) where other technologies are also interweaved with middleware (wireless communications, acoustic networks). Implementation details and test results, both in a laboratory and a deployment scenario, have been provided as a way to assess the quality of the system and its satisfactory performance.
Keywords: autonomous underwater vehicles; cyber-physical systems; middleware.