Follow that doughnut! CSIRO unveils mini guide blimp

Shiny, floating doughnut employs a series of wireless sensors for navigation

Bryan Huang's doughnut blimp helps guide visitors from reception to meeting rooms in the QCAT building, Brisbane. Photo: Navid Nourani / CSIRO

Bryan Huang's doughnut blimp helps guide visitors from reception to meeting rooms in the QCAT building, Brisbane. Photo: Navid Nourani / CSIRO

Queensland University of Technology avionics engineering student Bryan Huang has unveiled a mini blimp that looks a lot like a shiny, floating doughnut. The blimp may find employment as a guide to help visitors find their way from reception at CSIRO's Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies (QCAT) to meeting rooms.

The blimp was made from a modified party balloon and constructed during Huang's summer vacation scholarship with the CSIRO. It navigates QCAT in Pellenvale, Brisbane, using a combination of infrared sensors, a pressure sensor, accelerometer and compass. The blimp is also fed information by a series of wireless "smart" sensor nodes throughout the building.

"With these tiny smart wireless sensors all around the place measuring things, sending data and making decisions, you end up with a kind of embedded intelligence," said CSIRO information and communication technologies (ICT) researcher, Phil Valencia.

"Lots of people want to be able to do this so they can track animals, measure crop conditions or monitor household energy use, for example. At CSIRO we build the systems to do that and Bryan’s work is contributing to our other projects."

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