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Recently, the availability of numerous low-cost robotic units (e.g., Packbot, Robomote, and Khepera) has made it possible to massively deploy mobile sensors in a network and use them in a disposable manner. It has been shown that the controlled mobility offered by sensors can be exploited to improve the energy efficiency of a network. In this paper, we study a new problem called max-data mobile relay configuration (MMRC) that finds the positions of a set of mobile sensors, referred to as relays, that maximize the total amount of data gathered by the network during its lifetime. Different from previous controlled mobility approaches, we account for several characteristics of existing practical mobile sensing platforms including limited mobility and the high energy consumption of locomotion. We show that the MMRC problem is surprisingly complex even for a trivial network topology due to the joint consideration of the energy consumption of both wireless communication and mechanical locomotion. We present optimal MMRC algorithms and practical distributed implementations for several important network topologies. Our extensive simulations based on realistic energy models of existing mobile sensing platforms show that our approach can increase the data gathering capacity by a factor of at least 2 in most scenarios. Moreover, our distributed algorithms converge quickly and incur low messaging overhead.
Date of Conference: 8-12 Nov. 2010