DARPA’s new project aims to learn about the deepest parts of the oceans using sensors. These sensors will also have navigation and monitoring functionalities at a fraction of the cost of current solutions.
The oceans are full of mysteries. Even after all the years of our existence, we are yet to uncover a vast amount of knowledge about the depths of the oceans. It’s near impossible for humans to reach the surface, which is why there is so little known about the creatures and vegetation that live hidden at the bottom of the oceans. But not anymore, since DARPA’s Ocean of Things project looks to unravel all mysteries.
Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aims to create intelligent sensors that will float on the surface but collect immense information from the depths of the ocean like temperature, location, an activity of vessels and aircrafts, as well as data on the creatures moving in the deepest recesses of the oceans. The Ocean of Things programme uses the IoT technology which uses small sensors to collect information on all the connected devices and lets users monitoring as well as tracking of events.
Programme manager John Waterston said that this programme will help create a feasible solution for monitoring vast regions of the ocean. They will also help improve maritime awareness, all at a fraction of the cost of the current practices used. While the intention is certainly right, the path is full of obstacles. The first challenge lies in creating sensors that can tolerate the capricious nature of the oceans. Ideally, DARPA would want sensors that can continue functioning for at least a year. Next comes the challenge of creating sensors using environmentally friendly material that will not harm the aquatic life. The third is the challenge of creating sensors that have algorithms to detect, identify, and track vessels near the sensors.
All three are major challenges which DARPA has to overcome. It is also possible that the Ocean of Things programme can have military usage among other possible applications as well since the sensors are supposed to be equipped with algorithms for automatic detection and tracking of vessels. While the programme is a long way from completion, the idea is surely an exciting one. After millions of years of wondering about the mysteries of the oceans, mankind could finally solve mysteries that have to remain unchallenged thus far.
The bottom of the ocean is a dark place rumored to be inhabited by creatures much larger and dangerous than the mighty whale which Herman Melville so extolled yet warned against. No more will people have to rely on sightings of large and unknown creatures in a Big-Foot like clip whose credibility itself is a point of debate. The Ocean of Things project will not just be a major leap for the maritime sector; it will be a major leap for mankind as it might introduce us with more creatures with whom we share this big blue planet.