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Physical development of an mobile environmental sensor


IAP and Spring


11: Urban Studies and Planning

Faculty Supervisor:

Carlo Ratti

Faculty email:

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Project Description

The proposed project is part of the environmental monitoring research in context of City Scanner initiative that is being developed at MIT Senseable City Lab (http://senseable.mit.edu). The City Scanner initiative (http://senseable.mit.edu/cityscanner) aims at democratizing environmental data, bringing it to the doorstep of citizens. City Scanner leverages drive-by sensing, a novel approach to monitoring urban areas: intelligence stemming from a fleet of sensors-equipped vehicles is aggregated to provide advanced analytics for both local governments and citizens. By collecting, analyzing and visualizing hyperlocal environmental data sourced by fleets of vehicles equipped with custom-designed sensing nodes, we aim at studying a number of urban phenomena: for example, air quality, road quality, gas and energy leaks. Ultimately, we expect our platform aim to help delivering actionable insights for public good. The candidate will work with the City Scanner team to develop the physical shell of the prototype that will contain environmental sensors and the battery. Furthermore, the prototype will be attached to vehicles with high strength magnets and the device is solar powered. Currently, we have developed the prototype, Blackburn using 3D printing techniques. The new prototype we are seeking to develop will be more complex in its geometry using a mesh like finish to enhance the functionality of airflow through the device. Of equal importance, as the device will be deployed in extreme environmental conditions, its key the device is waterproof. Internally, the prototype will have to be stable and robust to hold sensors in place as vehicles will be driving over rough terrain. This will bring a challenge of bringing something of designing, developing and modelling in digital 3D to real-world situations. Contact: Tom Benson


We are looking for candidates with a background in architecture, product development or mechanical engineering to aid in the design and development of the physical prototype. For this task, it will require parametric modelling and airflow analysis, preferably in Grasshopper 3D / Rhino but open to other software’s that could complete such task