Managing cohort movement of mobile sensors via GPS-free and compass-free node localization

Hüseyin Akcan, Vassil Kriakov, Hervé Brönnimann, Alex Delis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A critical problem in mobile ad hoc wireless sensor networks is each node's awareness of its position relative to the network. This problem is known as localization. In this paper, we introduce a variant of this problem, directional localization, where each node must be aware of both its position and orientation relative to its neighbors. Directional localization is relevant for applications that require uniform area coverage and coherent movement. Using global positioning systems for localization in large scale sensor networks may be impractical in enclosed spaces, and might not be cost effective. In addition, a set of pre-existing anchors with globally known positions may not always be available. In this context, we propose two distributed algorithms based on directional localization that facilitate the collaborative movement of nodes in a sensor network without the need for global positioning systems, seed nodes or a pre-existing infrastructure such as anchors with known positions. Our first algorithm, GPS-free Directed Localization (GDL) assumes the availability of a simple digital compass on each sensor node. We relax this requirement in our second algorithm termed GPS- and Compass-free Directed Localization (GCDL). Through experimentation, we demonstrate that our algorithms scale well for large numbers of nodes and provide convergent localization over time, despite errors introduced by motion actuators and distance measurements. In addition, we introduce mechanisms to preserve swarm formation during directed sensor network mobility. Our simulations confirm that, in a number of realistic scenarios, our algorithms provide for a mobile sensor network that preserves its formation over time, irrespective of speed and distance traveled. We also present our method to organize the sensor nodes in a polygonal geometric shape of our choice even in noisy environments, and investigate the possible uses of this approach in search-and-rescue type of missions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-757
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Parallel and Distributed Computing
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Localization
  • Mobility
  • Wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Managing cohort movement of mobile sensors via GPS-free and compass-free node localization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this