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Distributed sensor network for enviromental data collection in difficult to reach areas


A grand portion of biodiversity and ecological processes happen in the treetops. However, the scientific knowledge in this forest extract is practically nonexistent as there are very few studies in these environments. Furthermore, the rare existing studies collect an insufficient environmental data sample to describe and explain the biological patterns and processes in these systems. The difficulty of access is the primary limitation to the collection of this data, that has thus far been collected by means of climbing or installation of stairs, scaffoldings, cranes, hanging bridges and by use of manned balloons, all of them of high cost and/or low efficiency. This difficulty is aggravated, in studies of floral visitors and polinization. Flying drones for the obtainment of images are available in the market and have been employed in mapping, population number estimates, animal and plant distribution, and soil contamination. However, the use of drones for setting-up and removing devices for the collection of animals and plants, as well as distributed sensors are less explored applications. This project proposes the development of a basic model of probe that connects via radio waves in a distributed network, enabling the collection of environmental data from hard to reach places, the probe would have the possibility of adaptation to the necessary conditions through coupling of diverse extensions and floral visitors collection devices. The installation and removal of the device can be made with the use of an aerial drone that would fly to the location and place the device in a way that it could be removed afterwards. For the prototyping of these device, will be employed systematic inovation algorithms, such as those used by several industries, specially in aeronautics and high tecnology. The method is called TRIZ (Teorija Resenija Isobretatelskih Zadac, or "theory of the resolution of invention-related tasks") This theory was developed between 1960 and 1980 by the russian scientist Genrich Altshuller (1926-1998) and his team. To develop such inventive principles he studied, along decades, thousands of patents, by which he identified hundreds of technical contradiction patterns. The TRIZ method is capable of offering a series of tools to identify patterns of evolution of technology, and offers practical solutions derived from other solutions that helped solve similar problems in the past. The stages of research and development will be: 1. The compilation of information on remote comunication; 2. The study of attraction methods and the collection of floral visitors; 3. Prototyping of a minimum viable product of the basic probe. 4. Development of the floral visitors collection module; 5. Development of the installation and removal methods in the canopy of trees; 6. Analysis of the efficiency and quality of the collected data.It is predicted that with these devices it will be possible to collect data that is currently hard to collect and even innacessible, possibilitating thus that the different models of probes being distributed to a great variety of environmental researchers that need this data but do not possess the safe methods of collection.The knowledge about terrestrial environments thus far restricts itself to accessible regions such as heights up to 3 meters and areas around roads and trails. The development of the devices proposed by this project will contribute to the a revolutionary advance in the capacity for research and environmental monitoring in forests and others difficult to reach areas. This advance will bring important consequences to the environmental management and conservation of services that ecosystems can offer to the society as a whole. Such devices are of great interest to private companies dedicated to agricultural production, environmental licensing, as well as research institutions, universities and environmental associations. (AU)

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