Wireless sensor mesh network (Manhole Application)

This project aims to understand and develop potential applications of ultra-wideband (UWB) communications technologies in the field of intelligent infrastructure.

Published on 24 April 2019

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The challenge

UWB is a radio technology that can use a very low energy level for short-range, high-bandwidth communications over a large portion of the radio spectrum. There are two major uses of the UWB protocol. The primary functionality is as a communications system, allowing remote, intelligent infrastructure units to transmit data, results, or alerts from other sensor systems to a control centre or framework. The capacity for range measurements and to work as a real-time localisation system forms a secondary capability for UWB systems.


Our approach

As an example of how UWB communications could be used with remote sensors, we are working towards a remote vibration sensor. Possible specific applications could include
  • looking for unusual or increased vibration in aging infrastructure (for example, access covers), as an aid to maintenance;
  • monitoring the stability and solidity of, for example, overhead gantries; or
  • detect (and characterise) impacts between vehicles and fixed infrastructure such as crash barriers.

The results

We have demonstrated that it is possible to communicate between UWB transceivers. We have outlined a number of outstanding issues to resolve before we are able to implement a localisation scheme. We have successfully developed a working accelerometer transmitter prototype to transmit accelerometer data from one node (Tag) to another (Anchor) and can demonstrate acceleration threshold detection and indicated this with an alarm.

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