ENERGY HARVESTING FOR WILDLIFE MONITORING
There is energy available all around us. Solar, thermal, and kinetic are all examples of energy sources that can be tapped to power small-scale electronic systems. The collection of small amounts of energy for this purpose is often referred to as energy harvesting. We are interested in using this technology to drastically extend the lifetime of wildlife data collection and location tags, known as bio-loggers. We have developed vibration energy harvesting modules using piezoelectric materials that have been tested on flying birds. We are currently exploring other applications of energy harvesting technologies on other species.
TWISTED POLYMER ACTUATORS
Artificial muscle systems have the potential to impact areas ranging from advanced prosthesis to miniature robotics. Our groups is currently developing and experimentally validating analytic models of novel, low cost, high power coiled-polymer actuators. Due in part to the novelty of these devices, the complex multi-directional material effects, and the experimental challenges in model validation, this work requires both analytic and experimental efforts.
Tracking small mammals require telemetry tags with smaller relative dimensions, so it does not affect the natural movement of the animal. To achieve the necessary size, the telemetry tags are either satellite compatible and expensive or archival and affordable. Currently, researchers are using archival Very High Frequency (VHF) tags to track bats in the Northern Arizona mountains and must manually retrieve these tags. DASL is working on creating a collapsible, lightweight, user friendly unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to assist with the location of the archival tags.
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