2010 R&D 100 Winner
Water-resource management and geotechnical risk assessments depend on hard data from areas that are difficult to access. The newly-designed Remote Neutrally Buoyant Sensor from Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, provides an effective, inexpensive solution to data collection in underground aquifers.
The small, self-powered device maps the path, dimensions, and morphology of fully or partially water-filled caves and other underground conduits and cavities using an array of ultrasound sensors relative to a three-axis magnetometer. Designed to be used in numbers to build a spatial map of the morphology of a cave’s interior, the buoyant sensor can transmit data to a second tethered sensor in close proximity, or by collecting the sensor at a later time.
Unlike prior sensors, the Remote Neutrally Buoyant Sensor is equipped with a propulsion system to move it through the cave and avoid protrusions.
Remote underwater sensors
Southwest Research Institute
Remote Neutrally Buoyant Sensor Development Team from Southwest Research Institute
Ronald T. Green