A group of Utah State University engineering graduate students received second place in the 2005 Crossbow Smart Dust Challenge at the second international TinyOS Technology Exchange at the University of California-Berkeley in February. The team developed robot technology that could help protect against environmental hazards or even terrorist attacks.
The team is comprised of doctoral students Zhen Song, Zhongmin Wang and master’s students Pengyu Chen and Anisha Arora. Mentored by Utah State electrical and computer engineering faculty member YangQuan Chen, the team won $2,000 and a $500 travel allowance for work that merged Crossbow’s wireless motes with ground mobile robot technology that can characterize or remove poisonous fog. A mote is a tiny, self-contained, battery-powered embedded computer that exchanges data with other motes via radio links. Motes are the building blocks of wireless sensor networks.
“Our project is full of innovative ideas that include a low-cost platform,” said Zhen Song, team leader for the project. “There are many research opportunities in distributed controls using mobile actuator sensor networks.”
The annual competition represents ideas for wireless sensor networking that demonstrate how it is used, programmed and deployed to positively impact society. The Smart Dust technology is being used to improve agricultural efficiency and growth, save environmentally sensitive lands, preserve national landmarks and protect the nation’s natural resources. Entries in the contest were judged on impact to society, originality of concept, commercial value and benefit to the user, ingenuity and each team’s demonstration of the entry. All entries were based on the TinyOS operating system.
The team will use its award to continue to work on the project and achieve long-term research goals, said Chen.
“I am so proud of my students,” said Chen. “They worked hard on this project and deserve to have the spotlight. I look forward to continuing the research with them.”