Researchers at the University of Washington have unveiled lightweight, self-contained sensors that can be moved by the wind. Scientists hope that such devices can be used to monitor the weather, crops or climate change, and the design will allow the sensors to change their location on their own.
Systems of wireless sensors have been actively used to monitor the weather before. Scientists noticed that it takes a lot of time and effort to install a network of hundreds of devices and decided to develop an easier way to spread over the area. Researchers have turned their attention to the dandelion, whose seeds travel long distances.
First, scientists had to decide on a form that could plan long and slow, but at the same time would be light enough. It is noted that for all the researchers tested more than 70 options and settled on an umbrella-shaped form.
To reduce weight, a solar panel was installed on the body and the battery was completely abandoned. The device was balanced in such a way that every time it lands with the solar panel up and in 95% of cases everything happens correctly. At night, the sensor turns off, as it cannot receive sunlight for work, and in the morning it is reactivated. To do this, a capacitor was installed on the case, which accumulates a charge in itself and starts the system. Scientists collect data from sensors using the backscatter effect.
The final weight of the gadget turned out to be 30 times heavier than a dandelion seed, but this still does not prevent it from moving with the help of the wind. The researchers propose dropping thousands of such devices at once from a drone over the required area. But in this case, the question of environmental friendliness arises, because sooner or later the sensors will become unusable, and their search and collection can take a long time. Now scientists continue to refine their idea and think about a biodegradable version of such devices.