Communication power optimization in a sensor network with a path-constrained mobile observer

Arnab Chakrabarti, Ashutosh Sabharwal, Behnaam Aazhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


We present a procedure for communication power optimization in a network of randomly distributed sensors with an observer (data collector) moving on a fixed path. The key challenge in using a mobile observer is that it remains within communication range of any sensor for a brief duration, and inability to transfer data in this duration leads to data loss. We establish that the process of data collection can be modeled by a queue with deadlines, where arrivals correspond to the observer entering the range of a sensor and a missed deadline means data loss. The queuing model is then used to identify the combination of system parameters that ensures adequate data collection with minimum power. The results obtained from the queuing analogy take a simple form in the asymptotic regime of dense sensor networks. Additionally, for sensor networks that cannot tolerate data loss, we derive a tight bound on minimum sensor separation that ensures that no data will be lost on account of mobility. We present two examples to illustrate our results, from which it is seen that power reduction by two orders of magnitude or more is typical relative to a static sensor network. The scenarios chosen for power comparisons also provide guidelines on the choice of path, if such a choice is available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-324
Number of pages28
JournalACM Transactions on Sensor Networks
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Communication
  • Mobility
  • Power
  • Queuing
  • Sensor network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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