Marine Litter Tracking System

January 10, 2017

Geo-tracking is not a new concept. It has been in use for decades in logistics and security applications such as fleet management, asset tracking, even child and elderly care, etc. With the recent development in cloud computing and standardized MQTT protocol, also the readiness of Arduino and related software, building a customized geo-tracking system can be made a teaching platform in schools and other educational organizations. Through the actual hands-on experience of building and coding the system, students will be exposed to a vast lot of state-of-the-art technologies, be able to personalize them and to practically use them according to their specific purpose.

This time, for example, we are working with our client in applying this geo-tracking technology into tracking marine litters going into and out of the Hong Kong territory. More than a hundred of the units will be deployed to various different up-stream locations where trashes were dumped. The devices will spend 2 weeks floating alongside the trash so as to reveal how they eventually land at different locations or where they go afterwards.

The system is still being tested. But the outcome is already very promising:

One big challenge of the project is that a tracker device needs to stay alive for as long as 2 weeks before the battery runs out. And this consideration alone dictates a lot of other design factors, i.e., the choice of processor, battery capacity, wake-up frequency, amount of data to transmit, effect of temperature on the battery performance, etc.

Technical Coverage

    Arduino, Hardware and Coding


    MQTT protocol, Internet of Things

    Power Management, Battery Characteristics

    Mechanical Design

    Product Design Considerations

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