US researchers recently unveiled a surprising project. The latter think of using flying insects such as moths to drop sensors safely. This moth sensors could be very useful for monitoring hard-to-reach areas such as certain forests.
Moth sensors how they work?
On Earth, there are many areas that are impossible to study or monitor. In a press release published on October 8, 2020, researchers from the University of Washington (United States) mentioned a new project. Experts have developed a tiny wireless sensor weighing just 98 mg. This can be transported by moths or drones to the areas to be studied. Once on the ground, the sensor can collect data related to temperature or humidity. In addition, this type of sensor can transmit data at a speed of 33 kb / s over a distance of one kilometer, and this for three years.
The leaders of the project say they are interested in insects like ants. Indeed, the latter can survive falls of several hundred meters! However, the low weight of the sensor allows a fall of 22 meters without incident. Let’s talk about the fact that the sensor attaches to a moth (or a small drone) using a magnet and electric coil system. As for the release of the sensor, this is done via Bluetooth by means of an electric current passing through the coil. Then, the magnetic field pushes back the sensor and therefore, releases it.
An encouraging prototype
Regarding the choice between the moth and the drone, the researchers favor the first solution. Indeed, moths have the advantage of seeing further and being able to penetrate into smaller spaces. In addition, previous studies have shown that it is possible to direct insects using electrical impulses. Thus, researchers think they can deploy many sensors to obtain networks. According to them, it could be to study and monitor forests effectively. It may also be a question of monitoring farms.
Obviously, the device is still at the prototype stage. There are therefore several steps to be taken in order to benefit from a product ready for marketing. The next goal of the researchers is to develop a system for recovering the sensors. Indeed, it will be necessary to recover them when their battery is exhausted. In addition, it is a question of replacing the battery with a photovoltaic cell and obtaining a completely autonomous release system.