Communication with buoys using LoRa (CommBuoy) (4/2022-3/2023)

LoRa is a long-range, low-power (but also low-bandwidth) wireless communication suitable for IoT, such as transmitting sensor data.This one-year-project received 1.8 million Icelandic krona funding from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration Research Fund.

Maritime navigation marks need to be installed with a high precision positioning. While Global Navigation
Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as GPS, can be used, their precision is restricted, but can be improved using differential correction data provided by a Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) at a nearby ground control point with a known position that distributes correction data over the Internet. However, while installing a floating buoy, an Internet connection may not always be available, for example, because the mobile phone or router that is used for Internet access is out of reach of a mobile phone base station located at the shore. LoRa is a novel long-range, low-power wireless networking technology for which a range of up to 83.6 km across the ocean has been reported.

This project aims at developing a research prototype system that can determine the position of a (floating)
buoy using differential GNSS and LoRa to transmit the differential information via an Internet-connected LoRa gateway on the shore to the buoy, so that the system on the buoy can then send its precise position to the ship from where the buoy is being installed.

Using the low-power LoRa wireless network together with a low-power Internet of Things (IoT) device, the
system can be powered by battery (with optional power supply by a solar panel) and even remain on the buoy
after installation so that it can be used for monitoring, e.g., report any drift of the buoy or data from any other sensor attached.

While we will use off-the-shelf IoT hardware for the prototype system, suitable software for such a system will be developed in this research project and further evaluated in field trials.