Internet of Things: TCAT Project
by Michelle D. Davies BSc ECE '22, Andrew Lin MEng ECE '21, and Kira Weinberg BSc MAE '22
Our vision for our project was to create a LoRaWan solution for TCAT to send their data from busses, to their central server. The challenge that we were addressing was to see if LoRaWan is a valid option for TCAT to move towards, and away from cellular which would save them money as well as help build the early open-source infrastructure for other companies to access affordable internet connectivity for their projects. For our project, We designed a prototype that could take its own GPS data, and send it through LoRaWAN and then map the gateway coverage of TCAT routes. This project proves the early potential for developing a LoRanWan system for communication for TCAT’s busses and other companies that might deploy very similar solutions. Once we collect the data, it is plotted on a map to see where the data was successfully sent, where the busses drove, and how fast the bus was moving at the time so that we can see where coverage exists. In our project, we have mounted one prototype to a bus that is able to drive any routes requested. This will help us to determine the effectiveness of our prototype for our application.
Our physical prototype consists of a 3d printed box that contains the devices that are mounted inside the bus’s electronics cabinets, is powered by the buses themselves, and is wired up to the top of the bus with an antenna shield/dome to protect the antenna from being damaged by the daily bus wash. While the device is in-field testing, we will find out if the shield can withstand the bus wash, and also if the antenna is able to transmit data through the shield or if it needs to be redesigned to be less limiting. The final vision of the mechanical box is one that is simpler to use, heat resistant, and able to protect the electronics inside and the antennae while minimizing their impact on their functionality.
The next steps in this project’s research and development would be to integrate the real information management system, Popufare, onto the device as well as connect it to the TCAT’s central server. From there, the web interface that displays the data could be hosted on a server in TCAT’s network so that the results can be updated in real-time and viewable to everyone with access to the internally-secured TCAT work network. The data could also be transmitted to the TCAT central server so that external applications such as Google Maps can access bus positions. We were only able to conduct field testing for half a day, but the system is wired up on the bus and is able to continue running, so this information will be available to whoever takes over the project in order to finish mapping out the coverage of local LoRaWAN gateways. From there, we would be able to see where there needs to be more coverage and potentially work with the city to see about adding supporting gateways to those areas, or change the prototype to have better connectivity. We will also learn about the various environmental factors that may affect our prototype’s function from geographical challenges such as cliffs, to weather.
Keywords: Lorawan, TCAT, Public Transportation, Internet of things
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