Ad-hoc mobile sensor networks
March 18th, 2008

(Thanks, Oink!)

Ad-hoc mobile networks:

From traffic lights to mobile phones, small computers are all around us. Enabling these ‘embedded systems’ to create wireless communications networks automatically will have profound effects in areas from emergency management to healthcare and traffic control.

Networks of mobile sensors and other small electronic devices have huge potential. Applications include emergency management, security, helping vulnerable people to live independently, traffic control, warehouse management, and environmental monitoring.

One scenario investigated by European researchers was a road-tunnel fire. With fixed communications destroyed and the tunnel full of smoke, emergency crews would normally struggle to locate the seat of the blaze and people trapped in the tunnel.

Wireless sensors could cut through the chaos by providing the incident control room with information on visibility, temperatures, and the locations of vehicles and people. Firefighters inside the tunnel could then receive maps and instructions through handheld terminals or helmet-mounted displays.

For this vision to become reality, mobile devices have to be capable of forming self-organising wireless networks spanning a wide variety of communications technologies. Developing software tools to make this possible was the task of the RUNES project.


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