Mapleseed Inspired Atmospheric Sensing

X. Liang
University of Michigan, United States

Keywords: sensor, flyer, mapleseed, airdrop, microsystem

Sensing of local air flow dynamics and spatial distributions of airborne nano/microscale particles in planetary boundary layer (PBL) is anticipated to provide valuable information for accurate predictions of weather and other important local atmospheric events, such as spreading processes of fatal viruses, bacteria, and pollutants. Existing measurement tools, such as RADAR/LiDAR probes, can only provide large scale coarse measurements of atmospheric parameters. To enable high-resolution local sensing in PBL, in situ measurement units are demanded to capture local (i.e., 1-10 m resolution) complex phenomena. The University of Michigan’s Sensor Network Laboratory (SNL) team has been developing a series of passive flyers (or microdrones), including parachute-based, mapleseed-inspired, and mapleseed-derived flyers. These flyers have been integrated with mini-size PCBs bearing sensors and data processing units and can be released from a drone and track air winds, in situ detecting atmospheric parameters and events in the PBL. The detection data can be wirelessly transmitted to the receiver system on the ground. Using such wireless flyer sensors, the SNL team has preliminarily demonstrated the in situ sensing of some basic atmospheric parameters, such as temperature, pressure, and humidity.