IoT-based weather monitoring system trialed in land speed record attempt


An advanced weather monitoring system using the IoT (Internet of Things) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) created by the UK’s Digital Catapult agency for the early adoption of advanced digital technologies is being trialed in an attempt to break the world land speed record.

The innovative system will be used by the UK’s Bloodhound Project during testing ahead of the team’s attempt at a new land speed record over 500mph (805km/h), with the trials currently taking place at the Haskeen Pan in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. This is the first time that this type of advanced sensor technology will be applied in supporting a high-speed challenge. IoT remote sensor stations will be located every 3,280 feet (1,000m) along the 12 mile (19km) long race track to aid the Bloodhound team in understanding how weather patterns are likely to impact the challenge outcome. Developed to support smart city projects in the UK, the battery-powered devices can run continuously for a year, and will record wind speed, gust speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.The sensors are wireless and can operate in the desert with very little infrastructure. Data from the sensors will be used during active testing, and will also be collected over a period of months to better understand and predict optimal challenge conditions. Data from the station sensors is transmitted via a Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) to a gateway that is connected to AWS IoT Core and visualized on Digital Catapult’s bespoke IoT Platform where the Bloodhound team will monitor conditions. By running the platform entirely on the AWS Cloud, the agency is able to scale up instantly during times of testing where there is high demand, and can scale back when the system is not in use. By using the latest AWS IoT Core technology, the project team can focus on the analysis and real-time application of the data, without having to worry about the backend development, management and security.

The sensors transmit data to radio base stations, known as gateways, that can be over 10 miles (16km) away. The Kalahari deployment uses three battery powered gateways to provide both range and redundancy. The sensors send their data every two minutes, or when a particular threshold has been breached. The Digital Catapult has pioneered the use and wide-spread rollout of IoT network technologies, such as LPWAN, and its free-to-use LoRaWAN test network is the largest in the UK and now encompasses over 600 gateways. With experience across multiple LPWAN technologies including Sigfox, LoRaWAN, NBIoT and 5G systems, the Digital Catapult is currently working with close to 30 public authorities in the UK and across Europe to underpin Smart City efforts through IoT technology choices.

“We are proud to contribute to the Bloodhound team’s record-breaking attempt. Our IOT team’s expertise is playing a critical role,” said Jeremy Silver, the Digital Catapult’s CEO. “The slightest shift in cross winds can affect the car’s stability and every piece of data we can deliver will help optimize the car’s performance. This is a really ambitious project and this attempt is a true celebration of British technology, expertise and passion to push past accepted limits.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.