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Badger quest: WildSensing reasearch wins award

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Andrew Markham, a postdoc in Niki Trigoni's Sensor Network group working on the WildSensing project, was recently awarded the prize for the best presentation at the prestigious ACM SenSys 2010 conference, held in Zurich, Switzerland. As a measure of the excellence of the conference, only 25 papers were accepted from over 145 submitted.

Andrew's research detailed a highly novel system for tracking and monitoring the behaviour of badgers within their underground burrows. Soil significantly attenuates radio signals, preventing the use of technologies such as GPS. However, low frequency magnetic fields penetrate soil with negligible attenuation. Badgers were fitted with custom designed collars that enable them to detect magnetic fields that were generated by loop antennas placed above the sett of interest. Data was stored on the collars and then transmitted over a high speed radio link when the animal emerged at night to forage.

This new technology has allowed previously unobserved badger behaviour to be recorded, revealing some interesting underground activities. In addition, the system also uses the trajectories of badgers underground to build up a map of the underground tunnel system. Andrew was awarded a 4.5 kg bar of Toblerone.

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