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Toward Cheap ­nderwater Sensor Nets

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UC San Diego underwater sensors team

The UCSD underwater sensors team includes recent electrical engineering alumnus John Moffatt (left), computer science Ph.D. student Bridget Benson (center), and electrical engineering undergrad Brian Faunce (right).

UC San Diego

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego's (UCSD's) Jacobs School of Engineering recently presented a paper highlighting the energy conservation benefits of using low-cost reconfigurable hardware for their experimental underwater sensor networks. Scientists need a low-cost option capable of capturing and transmitting environmental data back to land in real time, says UCSD computer science Ph.D. student in charge of the project Bridget Benson. "We are building a low-cost, low-power modem for short-range, low-data-rate underwater networking," Benson says. "Our idea is to make the sensor and modem hardware as energy efficient as possible." Better energy efficiency would make batteries last longer and enable the sensors to take measurements more often. A higher sampling rate can significantly increase the utility of the collected data and allow scientists to plan and conduct experiments when conditions are exactly right.

Benson says the underwater sensors also could act as "stepping stones" for underwater data transmission, without any single sensor having to send the signal over a long distance, helping save additional energy. After studying the patterns of energy consumption in underwater modems, the researchers determined that, for short distances, the hardware platform is a major power drain. The researchers then explored three different hardware platforms and determined that reconfigurable hardware provides the best low-energy implementation for the underwater communications algorithms they are using.

From UCSD News
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