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Automated installation and operation of sensors in an IP network

Most of today's oceanographic instruments implement non-standard manufacturer-defined command protocols. Likwise, instrument data formats are generally non-standard and manufacturer-defined. Significant engineering effort may be required to integrate these instruments into oceanographic observing systems. "Instrument driver" software that speaks the instrument command protocol must be written, as does software that knows how to parse and process the data. The instrument driver and other configuration files must be installed on the observing system when the device is physically plugged in. These steps are usually performed manually, and are often lengthy and hence error-prone. We demonstrate how these steps can be automated using standard protocols developed at MBARI and elsewhere. These protocols enable an instrument to automatically describe itself and its data in a standard way when the device is physically plugged into a network, Tools based on these protocols make it easy for users to find and access the instruments on the network. A "universal instrument driver" utilizes these descriptions to automatically control the instrument and process its data, eliminating the need to develop specialized driver software. More information and software available at: www.mbari.org/pw www.cdsarti.org www.52north.org
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