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Mesh Assisted Devices for Real-Time Asset Tracking (MADRAT)

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Billo, Associate Vice President for Research; Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. This project also involves Dr. Hochwald, of the Electrical Engineering Department.

Project Summary:

While the advancement of technologies such as GPS and location data based on cell coverage have improved the capabilities of tracking shipments in recent decades, a gap in coverage particularly while cargo is on the ocean still remains due to the cost and technical hurdles.  Tracking the shipments of cargo in real-time has historically been cost-prohibitive and reserved for big-ticket items only.  Additionally, the placement of a container inside of an ocean-going vessel typically obscures a direct line of sight to satellites and as a result, the container is tracked via the vessel.  In the event that a container is lost or damaged, it is unknown to the owner of the cargo until the ship arrives at its destination.  The ability to provide container-specific data through a system independent of GPS and cellular service offers a solution to these problems and provides cargo owners, insurers, and carriers a level of transparency and the ability to know location and cargo-specific data in real-time.

The proposed MADRAT product can be utilized to track the location, temperature, humidity, and acceleration of shipping containers and their cargo in real-time. MADRAT utilizes long-range, low power wireless communications technology (LoRa), RFID, and a self-healing mesh network protocol to operate independently of cellular networks. In this project, students will work alongside Drs. Hochwald and Billo to design the hardware, network, and software architectures of a system that will ultimately have the capability to track items in real-time anyplace in the world.

Student’s Role:

The REU participant’s skills need to include completed coursework in programming, database design, network communications and/or wireless communications. Previous lab experience a plus.