June 21, 2024


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Swarms of smart sensors explore the unknown – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

The routine maintenance of pipelines is constrained by their inaccessibility. An EU-funded undertaking designed swarms of compact autonomous remote-sensing agents that master by encounter to explore and map this sort of networks. The technologies could be tailored to a extensive vary of challenging-to-obtain synthetic and pure environments.


© Bart van Overbeeke, 2019

There is a absence of technologies for checking out inaccessible environments, this sort of as h2o distribution and other pipeline networks. Mapping these networks employing remote-sensing technologies could locate obstructions, leaks or faults to provide clear h2o or reduce contamination extra efficiently. The prolonged-term challenge is to optimise remote-sensing agents in a way that is relevant to a lot of inaccessible synthetic and pure environments.

The EU-funded PHOENIX undertaking dealt with this with a system that combines innovations in components, sensing and synthetic evolution, employing compact spherical remote sensors identified as motes.

‘We integrated algorithms into a comprehensive co-evolutionary framework where motes and ecosystem styles jointly evolve,’ say undertaking coordinator Peter Baltus of Eindhoven College of Technology in the Netherlands. ‘This may well serve as a new device for evolving the behaviour of any agent, from robots to wireless sensors, to address different demands from industry.’

Artificial evolution

The team’s system was correctly demonstrated employing a pipeline inspection test circumstance. Motes ended up injected many moments into the test pipeline. Going with the move, they explored and mapped its parameters in advance of being recovered.

Motes function devoid of direct human management. Each and every 1 is a miniaturised good sensing agent, packed with microsensors and programmed to master by encounter, make autonomous choices and strengthen by itself for the job at hand. Collectively, motes behave as a swarm, communicating by using ultrasound to develop a virtual model of the ecosystem they move by.

The key to optimising the mapping of not known environments is computer software that enables motes to evolve self-adaptation to their ecosystem around time. To obtain this, the undertaking staff designed novel algorithms. These bring jointly different forms of expert knowledge, to influence the style and design of motes, their ongoing adaptation and the ‘rebirth’ of the overall PHOENIX program.
Artificial evolution is attained by injecting successive swarms of motes into an inaccessible ecosystem. For every single technology, facts from recovered motes is blended with evolutionary algorithms. This progressively optimises the virtual model of the not known ecosystem as very well as the components and behavioural parameters of the motes by themselves.

As a result, the undertaking has also get rid of light on broader troubles, this sort of as the emergent homes of self-organisation and the division of labour in autonomous programs.

Flexible option

To management the PHOENIX program, the undertaking staff designed a dedicated human interface, where an operator initiates the mapping and exploration pursuits. State-of-the-artwork investigate is continuing to refine this, together with minimising microsensor electricity consumption, maximising facts compression and decreasing mote dimensions.

The project’s versatile technologies has various potential programs in tough-to-obtain or hazardous environments. Motes could be designed to journey by oil or chemical pipelines, for instance, or find web sites for underground carbon dioxide storage. They could assess wastewater less than destroyed nuclear reactors, be put inside of volcanoes or glaciers, or even be miniaturised plenty of to journey inside of our bodies to detect ailment.

Consequently, there are a lot of commercial prospects for the new technologies. ‘In the Horizon 2020 Launchpad undertaking SMARBLE, the organization circumstance for the PHOENIX undertaking effects is being even more explored,’ claims Baltus.