Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Micro and Nanoscale Systems

First Advisor

Rastko R. Selmic


This dissertation presents a study of an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) navigation and coverage hole patching in coordinate-free and localization-free Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). Navigation and coverage maintenance are related problems since coverage hole patching requires effective navigation in the sensor network environment. A coordinate-free and localization-free WSN that is deployed in an ad-hoc fashion and does not assume the availability of GPS information is considered. The system considered is decentralized and can be self-organized in an event-driven manner where no central controller or global map is required.

A single-UGV, single-destination navigation problem is addressed first. The UGV is equipped with a set of wireless listeners that determine the slope of a navigation potential field generated by the wireless sensor and actuator network. The navigation algorithm consists of sensor node level-number assignment that is determined based on a hop-distance from the network destination node and UGV navigation through the potential field created by triplets of actuators in the network. A multi-UGV, multi-destination navigation problem requires a path-planning and task allocation process. UGVs inform the network about their proposed destinations, and the network provides feedback if conflicts are found. Sensor nodes store, share, and communicate to UGVs in order to allocate the navigation tasks. A special case of a single-UGV, multi-destination navigation problem that is equivalent to the well-known Traveling Salesman Problem is discussed.

The coverage hole patching process starts after a UGV reaches the hole boundary. For each hole boundary edge, a new node is added along its perpendicular bisector, and the entire hole is patched by adding nodes around the hole boundary edges.

The communication complexity and present simulation examples and experimental results are analyzed. Then, a Java-based simulation testbed that is capable of simulating both the centralized and distributed sensor and actuator network algorithms is developed. The laboratory experiment demonstrates the navigation algorithm (single-UGV, single-destination) using Cricket wireless sensors and an actuator network and Pioneer 3-DX robot.