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Toward cheap underwater sensor nets
Date:5/27/2009

UC San Diego computer scientists are one step closer to building low cost networks of underwater sensors for real time underwater environmental monitoring. 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.

While the Navy has used expensive sonar systems for underwater communications for years, scientists around the world urgently need low cost underwater sensor technologies that can capture and transmit environmental data back to land in real time, explained Bridget Benson, the UC San Diego computer science Ph.D. student leading the project.

"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
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Contact: Daniel Kane
dbkane@ucsd.edu
858-534-3262
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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