The Microwave and Communication Systems Group is developing Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) technologies for application in a diverse range of commercial and industrial sectors, including aerospace, agriculture, chemical engineering, nuclear, and smart metering.
During development Rolls-Royce industrial gas turbine engines are instrumented with up to 3,000 individual sensors which are wired to data acquisition systems using over 12km of cable. The group is developing WSN technology capable of operating in the harsh radio propagation environment between the engine casing and the nacelle. This technology will offer improved flexibility of sensor deployment, reduced deployment time and reduced costs.
This photograph is reproduced with the permission of Rolls-Royce plc, copyright © Rolls-Royce plc 2012.
With funding from the EPSRC Wired and Wireless Intelligent Networked Systems (WINES) initiative the group has developed the AVEXIS system - an autonomous vehicle that can be used to survey confined underwater environments. The current system has been developed to address the challenges of monitoring nuclear storage facilities and supporting nuclear decommissioning programmes. Swarm techniques are being investigated to offer reduced survey times and increase sensing resolution.
There is considerable scope for the application of WSN technology in precision agriculture and environmental protection. With funding from the EPSRC Wired and Wireless Intelligent Networked Systems (WINES) initiative the group developed an RF time-of-flight measurement system capable of localising sensor nodes in large grain storage vessels. Industrial funding has supported the development of a sensor network architecture for in-crop sensing, and a sub-soil sensor based on RFID techniques is under development.