At the IEEE Reconfigurable Architectures Workshop in Rome, Italy, on May 25, computer scientists from the Jacobs School of Engineering presented a paper highlighting the energy conservation benefits of using reconfigurable hardware rather than competing hardware platforms for their experimental underwater sensor nets.
“We are building a low-cost, low-power modem for short-range, low data-rate underwater networking. Working underwater means you don’t have access to a wall socket for plug-in power. Our idea is to make the sensor and modem hardware as energy efficient as possible,” said Benson.
Greater energy efficiency means batteries can last longer and the sensors can sample the environment more frequently. Higher sampling rates can greatly increase the utility of the collected data and enable scientists to plan experiments when the conditions are just right.
Networks of underwater sensors could also serve as “stepping stones” that provide a way for data collected from underwater sensors to get back to land without any one sensor having to send a signal a long distance, which is costly in terms of energy consumption.
Reconfigurable hardware rises to the top
The computer scientists studied the patterns of energy consumption of underwater modems and determined that, for short distances, the hardware platform is a big power drain. With this in mind, the researchers looked at three different hardware platforms: digital signal processors, microcontrollers, and reconfigurable hardware. Their tests—described in the paper presented at the IEEE Workshop in Rome—show that the reconfigurable hardware platform provides the best low-energy implementation for the particular underwater communications algorithm they implemented.
“The amplifier works, but it is not yet as efficient as Don Kimball’s original design or the early simulations,” said electrical engineering undergraduate Brian Faunce, referring to Calit2 principal development engineer Don Kimball. “There is some sort of an optimization issue we still have to figure out.” “The impedance of the underwater transducer is much more complex than we originally thought” says Kimball.
“In class, you learn a lot of theory, but you don’t learn how to revise a schematic, layout the printed circuit board, assemble the circuit and then perform field tests. I have friends at other schools, and when it comes to internships and projects, they are just not available at other schools the way they are here,” said Faunce.
“Sensor networks are revolutionizing the way we understand our natural world. Unfortunately, the advances in the underwater sensor networks have not matched those in the terrestrial domain,” said Kastner, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at the Jacobs School.
Sensor Nets and Diving Vets
If scientists had underwater sensor nets, they could keep better tabs on how water conditions are changing. For example, Benson is working with researchers at an ecological research station in Tahiti that includes underwater sensors. However, the data from the sensors is only available every six months, when a diver manually goes down to the sensor and downloads that data.
In addition to creating sensor nets, these modems could be used to send data to autonomous crafts on the water’s surface. Researchers at UCSD’s Calit2 led by Doug Palmer, principal development engineer, are working on such a craft, Reef Bot.
Closer to home, Benson had first hand knowledge of how sensor nets could be useful for monitoring California’s rocky reefs. Outside of school, Benson serves as the Southern California volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit organization Reef Check. Benson oversees the training of veteran divers to conduct surveys of the species living in reefs from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
“Our volunteers learn how to identify fish and other organisms and learn what protocols we use. Once they are certified, the volunteers go out and help us do the surveys,” said Benson, who will oversee a survey in Palos Verdes (between Santa Monica and Huntington Beach) on June 6 and 7. Other volunteers from Reef Check will do a similar survey in La Jolla Cove on May 30.
“I have the field experience, and I see the need for the cheap sensor networks we are working on,” said Benson, who envisions a future where volunteers and autonomous robots work together to monitor the health and species richness of reefs and other underwater ecosystems.
“Energy Benefits of Reconfigurable Hardware for Use in Underwater Sensor Nets,” IEEE Reconfigurable Architectures Workshop (RAW), May 2009 by Bridget Benson, Ali Irturk, Junguk Cho and Ryan Kastner from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering.
Bridget Benson is supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. This project is supported by NSF grant CNS-0839944.
Daniel Kane | EurekAlert!
Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI
Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy