Decentralized environmental modeling by mobile sensor networks

Kevin M. Lynch*, Ira B. Schwartz, Peng Yang, Randy A. Freeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations


Cooperating mobile sensors can be used to model environmental functions such as the temperature or salinity of a region of ocean. In this paper, we adopt an optimal filtering approach to fusing local sensor data into a global model of the environment. Our approach is based on the use of proportional - integral (PI) average consensus estimators, whereby information from each mobile sensor diffuses through the communication network. As a result, this approach is scalable and fully decentralized, and allows changing network topologies and anonymous agents to be added and subtracted at any time. We also derive control laws for mobile sensors to move to maximize their sensory information relative to current uncertainties in the model. The approach is demonstrated by simulations including modeling ocean temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-724
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Average consensus estimation
  • Decentralized control
  • Distributed control
  • Mobile sensor networks
  • Multiagent systems
  • Ocean modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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