In order to protect and conserve the world we live in, there is an urgent need to study and understand its most vulnerable flora and fauna. Many species are endangered because they need very special conditions to survive, and human activity, even just for monitoring purposes, may cause changes that impact animals and plant species.
In order to limit this impact, geographical spaces have been defined for wildlife habitat conservation. In those areas, human activity is strictly regulated, ranging from limitations to absolute prohibition of access to a prescribed area. However, such areas are, by definition, of particular interest to specific research communities (e.g. ethnologists, botanists) that need to study these specific environments. How can flora and wildlife be monitored in these restricted areas without any human interaction?
How can we monitor without damaging or disrupting the natural environment?
Solutions tested on FIT’s embedded objects testbeds can help minimize this problem through the use of a wireless sensor network and mobile robots. Each robot is equipped with a wireless sensor and is able to move independently, thus mimicking animal behaviour for testing purposes. According to the monitoring needs (e.g. monitoring of temperature, humidity, movement and other behaviour), the sensors can transmit measured data and communicate to localize the monitored subjects (robots and, eventually, animals), ensure area coverage, enable target tracking, etc.
The testbed will be used to develop the means to allow ethnologists to understand complex issues such as animals’ metabolisms, and how to protect them from illnesses and conditions such as obesity. In time, joint work with biologists, physicists and chemists could even lead to this data being used to develop new medicines for human consumption.
To test this use case scenario mobile robots, embedded with wireless sensors, are deployed in an area of 250m2. The robots, taking the place of animals, move autonomously to ensure testing of properties such as area coverage and movement. The location and trajectory of each robot will be monitored thanks to the geolocation system provided in FIT, which will eventually be extended to be used on living test subjects.
A mobile robot of the kind used in FIT’s embedded object testbeds, fitted with sensors and camera.
Who might be interested?
- Ethnologists, botanists, and more generally scientists involved in the various steps of understanding both living populations and environmental evolutions.
- Development and environment Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).