Solar Powered WiFi Bionic Turtles Lurking in Swamp


There is the internet, the slower sneakernet, and now we have the turtlenet. Scientists from the University of Massachusetts were trying to figure out how to track snapping turtles and figure out how they are coping with loss of habitat and other factors. They developed the TurtleNet: Solar powered GPS and WiFi units that are glued to the backs of snapping turtles.

According to Yahoo News: The idea behind the technology is to create a network of constantly moving devices that record and store information, transmit data from one device to another, then relay all the saved information to a central location while running on self-charging batteries. "A lot of the existing technology works great as long as you're not moving around and you have stable networks and people who could recharge batteries," said Jacob Sorber, a doctoral candidate in computer science who designed the network he calls TurtleNet, a project funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.


University of Massachusetts biologist Mike Jones restrains a 40-pound snapping turtle in preparation for the attachment of a GPS beacon to its back for research purposes.

Solar powered computers are attached to the backs of snapping turtles, and the turtle-to-turtle network relays the information to the base station, which sends a text message to the campus fifteen miles away. The turtlenet uses lower power transmitters than a direct system would use, and is low power enough to be recharged by solar.

Previously Biologist Mike Jones had a harder time tracking turtles- he had to carry a radio receiver while wading through swamps, and the batteries on the older, non-networked transmitters didn't last. Turtlenet will let him know wher the turtles are at any time.

If only someone would set up my home network to run so well. ::Yahoo

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