DARPA's Oceans of Things program seeks to enable persistent maritime
situational awareness over large ocean areas by deploying thousands of
small, low-cost floats that could form a distributed sensor network. Each
smart float would contain a suite of commercially available sensors to
collect environmental data-such as ocean temperature, sea state, and
location-as well as activity data about commercial vessels, aircraft, and
even maritime mammals moving through the area. The floats would transmit
data periodically via satellite to a cloud network for storage and real-time
The technical challenge for Ocean of Things lies in two key areas: float
development and data analytics.
Under float development, proposers are tasked to design an intelligent float
to house a passive sensor suite that can survive in harsh maritime
environments. Each float would report information from its surroundings for
at least one year before safely scuttling itself in the deep ocean. The
floats will be required to be made of environmentally safe materials, pose
no danger to vessels, and comply with all federal laws, regulations, and
executive orders related to protection of marine life.
The data analytics portion of the Ocean of Things program requires proposers
to develop cloud-based software and analytic techniques to process the
floats' reported data. This effort includes dynamic display of float
locations, health, and mission performance; processing of environmental data
for oceanographic and meteorological models; developing algorithms to
automatically detect, track, and identify nearby vessels; and identification
of new indicators of maritime activity.
For the latest on Ocean of Things including float data that will be made available for the wider oceanographic research community, visit oceanofthings.darpa.mil.
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