LiftOff: Let Internet fly!
The next IT revolution is about to happen. In the near future, new internet-connected micro drones with dedicated sensors will provide environmental data from places which no other sensor will be able to reach. For instance, these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (or UAV, as they are normally referred to), directly managed by a municipality, may monitor the stratification of polluting agents in metropolitan areas, making data openly available over internet.
Environmental engineers and traffic control authorities will be able to connect to UAV and provide high-level measurements, for instance the recording of CO2 concentration in a specific area of 1 cubic km. The UAV will perform the necessary tasks to collect the required data in complete autonomy.
Luca Mottola, Software Engineering researcher and Assistant Professor within the Electronics, IT and Bioengineering Department (DEIB) of Milan Polytechnic, and expert of cyber-physical scenarios, draws the attention on the current constraints preventing a much quicker and broader adoption of these technologies and applications. “The development of the required software to implement such applications is undermined by the lack of appropriate programming languages and tools.” Mottola's project, called LiftOff, is specifically to create a software development platform for connected UAVs, including a dedicated support service and programming language to assist developers and ensure that the UAVs comply with existing health & safety regulations.
LiftOff is currently in the prototype phase. However, Mottola does not limit his activity to the research phase; rather he enjoys building devices with his own hands. That is why he and his team are also developing a pilot project for CO2 monitoring, by employing and modifying commercially available UAVs to show how their proposed LiftOff programming language a UAV can be instructed to take CO2 samples in a specific area. Another step towards the making the “Internet of Things” an every day’s reality.