SensorPod™ Emplacement Technologies

SensorPod Overview - Applications - Dispensing - Emplacement

Along with the dispensing of sensors packages, we have also developed many different emplacement technologies for ensuring that the sensor is properly positioned in its environment, as described in the following sections.

Self-Righting Capability

Sensor applications such as seismic monitoring, audio/video surveillance, and ground chemistry testing require that the sensor either be placed in good contact with the ground surface or be aligned in a particular orientation relative to the surface. To provide capabilities for sensor orientation and surface contact, we have developed a compact mechanism to enable SensorPod™ packages to self-right after deployment. The self-righting system, shown below, has 3 petals that lay along the side of the payload during deployment and landing. Using a small motor and gear train, the petals are slowly opened in a controlled manner, a requirement for reliable operation. This system provides not only orientation control, but also allows for assured normal ground contact for sensors requiring accurate coupling (such as seismic sensors). A more basic spring and dashpot version of this system is also possible if controlled surface contact is not required (freeing up additional sensor volume). This system can just as readily be used to point a sensor at a target after deployment by utilizing a separate actuator for each petal.

Self-Righting sensor delivery package. Sensors would be mounted in place of the central post

Self-Righting Peeping Tombot with swivel mounted camera

Movie of Self-Righting mechanism in action

Above-Surface Placement

Applications such as wind speed monitoring and air quality testing require positioning of the sensing device above the surface to raise the probe above the boundary layer or to provide a profile through it. Similarly, for imaging sensors a higher vantage point can significantly improve its utility. To address this need, we have developed a small, coilable-boom deployable mast that works in conjunction with the self-righting system, as shown below. For short duration deployments (10’s of minutes), an inflatable mast has also been developed that takes up less volume than the coiled boom mast and cost significantly less to manufacture.

An inflated mast concept. Click for a deployment video

A collapsable mast concept. Click for a deployment video

Surface Mobility

Occasionally, launched sensors must have some means of limited mobility. This can be achieved by including self-expanding foam wheels inside the dispensing canister. As soon as the sensor package is launched, the wheels deploy. When the sensor hits the ground, these wheels can then be remotely controlled to fine tune the final placement of the sensor.

Prototype mobile sensor package with self-expanding foam wheels.

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