SensorFly-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University



Controlled-mobile Aerial Sensor Networking

In an emergency situation like an earthquake or fire, the rapid discovery of trapped survivors is key for their survival. As delay increases, a trapped survivor’s chance for survival drops significantly. To assist the efforts of emergency responders and ensure their safety, traditional sensor networks and robotic solutions (including helicopter based ones) have been proposed. Unfortunately, limitations (including deployment logistics, variable environmental problems, infrastructural dependence, system robustness, and speed) have hampered their adaption. Because of the fundamental nature of these challenges, there is a need for a new approach to this problem. This approach needs to leverage new mobility technology while meeting stringent constraints associated with low-cost sensors.

To solve these problems, we are developing a unique, cloud sensing system that consists of miniature helicopter-based sensing nodes. A sensor cloud consists of many low cost and individually limited mobile sensing devices that only when functioning together can produce an intelligent cloud. Due to the number of nodes in a system, it would offer greater flexibility, reliability and performance than current platforms with fixed roles. This research centers on the use of SensorFly nodes, the smallest mobile helicopter platform that we are developing with a weight of ~30 grams (lightest existing platform by more than 5X). This weight severely limits the amount of sensors it can carry, with each device only capable of carrying one extra sensor in addition to navigational and communicational sensors. Therefore the system will need to communicate and collaborate sensor information (video, microphone, speaker, light, temperature, etc.) in order to provide full and robust sense of the environment.

Contact: Pei Zhang