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We discuss the use of mobility to enhance network performance for a certain class of applications in sensor networks. A major performance bottleneck in sensor networks is energy since it is impractical to replace the batteries in embedded sensor nodes post-deployment. A significant portion of the energy expenditure is attributed to communications and, in particular, the nodes close to the sensor network gateways used for data collection typically suffer a large overhead as these nodes must relay data from the remaining network. Even with compression and in-network processing to reduce the amount of communicated data, all the processed data must still traverse these nodes to reach the gateway. We discuss a network infrastructure based on the use of controllably mobile elements to reduce the communication energy consumption at the energy constrained nodes and, thus, increase useful network lifetime. In addition, our approach yields advantages in delay-tolerant networks and sparsely deployed networks. We first show how our approach helps reduce energy consumption at battery constrained nodes. Second, we describe our system prototype which utilizes our proposed approach to improve the energy performance. As part of the prototyping effort, we experienced several interesting design choices and trade-offs that affect system capabilities and performance. We describe many of these design challenges and discuss the algorithms developed for addressing these. In particular, we focus on network protocols and motion control strategies. Our methods are tested using a practical system and do not assume idealistic radio range models or operation in unobstructed environments.
Mobile networking, controlled mobility, wireless sensor networks.

A. A. Somasundara, A. Kansal, M. B. Srivastava, D. Estrin and D. D. Jea, "Controllably Mobile Infrastructure for Low Energy Embedded Networks," in IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, vol. 5, no. , pp. 958-973, 2006.
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