Dissertation: Open Source Platform Development as an Enabler of Wireless Automation

Posted on 18/09/19.

Reino Virrankoski will defend his doctoral dissertation on Wednesday, 25th of September.

Wireless sensor and actuator networks (WSNs) have experienced a rapid development during the last 15 years. The early ideas about miniaturized smart dust have diversified to several application areas. Among them is wireless automation, which has high commercial expectations. The creation of standards, like WirelessHART and ISA 100.11a, has enabled a wider adaption of wireless automation. WSNs have also important role in the concepts of Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet, Cyberphysical Systems and Industry 4.0.

Reino Virrankoski’s doctoral dissertation focuses on open source platform development in wireless automation under IEEE 802.15.4 standard. Research method is empirical. First, the state of the art is discussed by giving an overview about WSNs, wireless automation and standardization related to the use of IEEE 802.15.4 based WSNs for wireless automation. Since this work covers a time span of more than ten years, also the development of wireless sensor platforms during that time is included to the introductory part.

In the WSN applications for wireless automation, the network must automatically initialize itself for use, adapt for changes and heal from malfunctioning situations. First part of the results are related to localization, clustering and time synchronization, which all belong to the WSN initialization and control. Security is not in the focus of this dissertation, but it is a necessary part of feasible wireless automation solution and must be taken into account since the early levels of the system design. Because of that, it is briefly discussed in the context of presented unified privacy preserving model.

Applied design method is a platform based approach, which targets to the design of a generic open source sensor platform. The design targets were further focused by interviewing the experts from the academia and industry. As an outcome of this process, a generic and modular sensor platform was developed.

Developed sensor platform is then evaluated through several applications. Based on the implementation results, a wireless sensor and actuator network based on the developed platform was a feasible solution for many types of wireless automation applications. It was also possible to interface it with the other parts of the system. Based on these results it can be concluded that the targeted level of sensor platform genericity was achieved. However, it was also observed that the achieved level of genericity increased the software complexity. Since many different options are possible using the same platform, each new configuration requires more sophisticated software compared with a sensor platform targeted to narrower application sector with more limited number of configuration options.

The development of commercial sensor platforms, which support IEEE 802.15.4 sensor networking, has narrowed down the role of open source sensor platforms, but they are not disappearing. Commercial software is usually closed and connected to a specified platform, which makes it unsuitable for research and development work. Even though there exits many commercial WSN solutions and the market expectations in this area are high, there is still a lot of work to do before the visions about IoT are fulfilled, especially in the context of distributed and locally centralized operations in the network. In terms of control engineering, one of the main research issues is to figure out how the well-known control techniques may be applied in wireless automation where WSN is part of the automation system. For example, the distributed and limited WSN computation and communication resources, time-variant communication delays, the existence of missing and misleading data, sensor platform energy supply, and time synchronization will set some new conditions which must be taken into account in the control design. Open source platforms offer an important tool in this research and development work.

The hardware expires much faster than software and algorithms behind the software. This must be taken into account in the open source wireless sensor platform development. Tools for software based network simulation and configuration can also be used as a part of the open source platform development, but in addition to simulations, also implementations are needed to figure out and test the WSN operation.

Further information

Reino Virrankoski, email: reino.virrankoski(at)aalto.fi

Virrankoski, Reino (2019). Open Source Platform Development in Wireless Automation under IEEE 802.15.4 Standard. Acta Wasaensia 428. Doctoral dissertation. University of Vaasa.

Publication pdf: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-476-877-1

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Reino Virrankoski’s doctoral dissertation ”Open Source Platform Development in Wireless Automation under IEEE 802.15.4 Standard” will be held on Wednesday 25 September 2019 at 12 o’clock in auditorium Wolff. The field of dissertation is Automation Technology.

Professor, Director of Research Hannu Kari (National Defence University) will act as an opponent and Docent Heikki Koivo as a custos.

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