ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) collaborative effort with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Army Geospatial Center (AGC) on a Digital Buoy System has been selected as a 2023 R&D 100 Finalist in the IT/Electrical category.
The R&D 100 Awards honor leaders in the research and development community and their innovative ideas in science and technology. It is the only science and technology awards competition that recognizes new commercial products, technologies and materials currently available on the market for their technological significance.
“Our team was surprised and appreciative that ERDC nominated the Digital Buoy technology for the 2023 R&D 100 Awards — a renowned, worldwide science and innovation competition,” said Tung “Alex” Ly, a computer scientist with ERDC’s Geospatial Research Laboratory (GRL). “We were among entries from 15 different countries, and we are very honored to be selected as one of the finalists by a panel of well-respected industry professionals from across the world. We are especially pleased to be able to contribute to the Power of ERDC.”
The Army’s new Digital Buoy System eliminates costs by leveraging a wireless mesh network and providing real-time, remote tracking and monitoring of buoys.
Buoys are the primary method for regulating waterway traffic. Unfortunately, a significant number of buoys naturally drift out-of-station, creating hazardous situations. An out-of-station buoy is non-functional for navigational purposes and creates a high risk of vessels running aground or becoming lost or difficult to locate in an emergency.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must regularly perform labor-intensive operations to identify and manually relocate these floating markers that naturally drift from their original positions.
The Army’s Digital Buoy System enables distributed buoy tracking via a wireless mesh network and offers automated navigational map updating. This low-power and low-maintenance system provides remote, real-time buoy monitoring to significantly reduce operational costs and provides enhanced marine navigation not only in the U.S. but internationally as well.
“The work Alex conducted, is at the forefront of envisioning a future digital buoy system for safer navigation on the Nation’s waterways,” said David Hibner, director of ERDC-GRL and AGC. “Such a system would have profound implications for monitoring a variety of dynamic riverine conditions including water depth and buoy position. Additionally, his electronic buoy patent provides a framework for a low power, mesh network that supports mariners as they transit up and down the waterway with vital information provided through the Inland Electronic Navigational Charts program.”
Along with Ly, the Digital Buoy research team includes Denise LaDue, a cartographer with AGC, and Duane Morrison, a former cartographer with AGC.
Winners of the R&D 100 were announced on August 22, along with medalists in the five special recognition categories and winners in the five professional awards categories. The 2023 R&D 100 gala banquet will be held in San Diego, California, on November 16 to honor those recipients.