System design for wireless sensor nodes that explore unknown environments

Today, many environments stay inaccessible to humans, even with modern cutting-edge technologies. For instance, there is currently no technologies available to explore deep underground oil wells, or the inside of water distribution systems. In this context, the PHOENIX project proposes to explore these unknown environments with very small wireless sensor nodes, known as agents. Those agents are able to communicate with each other using ultrasound, in order to localize themselves and build a map of the environment to explore. The agents will be inserted at a given location in the environment to explore, and will be taken out in another location after exploring the environment. Inside, they will be completely autonomous and without any contact to a base station.


In this project, you will help the research team to design a first prototype of a sensor node, that will serve as a first agent. In particular, your task will be to collaborate with fellow students working on the node’s data acquisition and ultrasound communication. Your task will be related to the system design of the node.  Going in more details, you will:

  • Optimize the arrangement of components (PCB, battery, ultrasound transceivers, mass pieces) for optimal performance, especially location of the Internal Measurement Unit (IMU) and relative location of the battery and ultrasound transmitters and receivers.
  • Optimize the mass arrangement and density of the mote and the dynamic behaviour 
  • Perform simulation of the node’s ultrasound communication.
  • Test the overall agent in real conditions, by performing measurements in a fluid medium.