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The Internet of Things has helped manufacturers connect their assets to reduce downtime and provided greater traceability for supply chain professionals. But now, thanks to DARPA, the ocean itself will be connected to the ever-expanding Internet of Things.

Last week, DARPA announced a new program dubbed the Ocean of Things. The goal of the program is to enable persistent maritime situational awareness over large ocean areas. This will be achieved by deploying thousands of small, commercially available floats that would combine to form a distributed sensor network.

As with most IoT implementations, there are sensors that collect data. In this case, they’re collecting environmental data as well as activity data on commercial vessels, aircraft, and even maritime mammals. The environmental data would include things like temperature, sea state, and location to provide unprecedented visibility into vast regions of the ocean. The data is then stored in a cloud network for real-time analysis.

“By coupling powerful analytical tools with commercial sensor technology, we plan to create floating sensor networks that significantly expand maritime awareness at a fraction of the cost of current approaches.” said John Waterston, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office (STO).

In order to survive these harsh maritime environments without becoming hazardous to sea life, the program’s designers are creating intelligent floats made from environmentally safe materials that house a passive sensor suite and pose no danger to vessels. The floats will collect and report data for roughly one year before scuttling itself in the deep ocean. The sensors wil comply with all federal laws, regulations, and executive orders related to the protection of marine life.

Though the program is still in the early stages of development, there are plans to create a dynamic display of all float locations, health, and mission performance. In addition to pairing this data with oceanographic and meteorological models, algorithms will also be developed to automatically detect, track, and identify nearby vessels as well as other maritime activity.

Stay tuned for upcoming articles on the Industrial Internet of Things and influence on manufacturing, supply chain, and service topics by following us on Twitter @OpsProABG!

 

DARPA | Earthcube | GovTech

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