Army’s Digital Buoy System Named R&D 100 Finalist

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) collaborative effort with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Army Geospatial Center (AGC) on a Digital Buoy System has been selected as a 2023 R&D 100 Finalist in the IT/Electrical category.

The R&D 100 Awards program was established in 1963 to bring recognition to science and technology projects. It is currently the only S&T awards competition that recognizes new commercial products, technologies, and materials for their technological significance. 

ERDC’s team was amongst entries from 15 different countries. The team consists of Tung “Alex” Ly, a computer scientist with ERDC’s Geospatial Research Laboratory (GRL), Denise LaDue, a cartographer with AGC, and Duane Morrison, a former cartographer with AGC.

Their new Digital Buoy system eliminates costs by leveraging a wireless mesh network and providing real-time, remote tracking and monitoring of buoys.

Buoys are the primary method for regulating waterway traffic. Unfortunately, a significant number of buoys naturally drift out-of-station, creating hazardous situations. An out-of-station buoy is non-functional for navigational purposes and creates a high risk of vessels running aground or becoming lost or difficult to locate in an emergency.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must regularly perform labor-intensive operations to identify and manually relocate these floating markers that naturally drift from their original positions.

The Army’s Digital Buoy System enables distributed buoy tracking via a wireless mesh network and offers automated navigational map updating. This low-power and low-maintenance system provides remote, real-time buoy monitoring to significantly reduce operational costs and provides enhanced marine navigation not only in the U.S. but internationally as well.

Winners of the R&D 100 were announced on August 22, along with medalists in the five special recognition categories and winners in the five professional awards categories. The 2023 R&D 100 gala banquet will be held in San Diego, California, on November 16 to honor those recipients.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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