There are several major obstacles to take into consideration when developing an observation system for harsh and remote environments. The biggest is undeniably the limited infrastructure in the form of transport, energy supply and wireless networks. Travelling to and moving around in the observed region might be challenging. Access to supplies such as food and spare equipment will also be limited to what can be planned and easily transported.

The DAO project seeks to develop the next generation scalable, energy sensitive, configurable, and robust observation system enabling in-situ high resolution observations of large areas of the arctic tundra, with services making the data available to researchers and the public. DAO includes approaches to doing analytics and visualizations of the data. DAO comprises novel autonomous, robust, configurable, and energy-efficient in-situ observation units (OU)s, and a backend system supporting the observation units with storage, configurations, and crash handling. The backend also makes the data and services for analytics and visualizations available to researchers and the public.

The DAO researchers are contributing  on several aspects in order to develop more efficient and practical solutions. The hardware used must be able to withstand and function under very variable weather conditions, and in particular very cold temperatures. It should also be able to maintain its integrity in case of animal interactions. A functional and communicative DAO-cyber physical system (CPS) requires two essential resources; energy and wireless data networks, which are both very limited on the Arctic tundra. One can imagine central units, or unmanned areial vehicles (UAVs) as being instrumental to data collection and servicing such a system.

While COAT is the specific use-case for the DAO-CPS, it is likely that both the hardware technology and software systems developed will have further uses. Environmental monitoring in similarly harsh environments such as the Antarctica, Siberia or Himalayans can also be coherent use-cases for the DAO-CPS. The flexibility and adaptiveness of the system allows for usage within (for example) geological monitoring, oceanography, and could also be used to simplify the inspection and monitoring of industrial or aquaculture installations, such as high tension towers, windmills, and sea cages (aquaculture).

Figure 1 Illustration of a distributed cyber-physical system. The OUs are placed in difficult to access terrain and are serviced by UAVs (top left). Data from the OUs are temporarily collected and stored on a central unit. UAVs are also used to collect data (right side of image). Foto: IFI