Exploiting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to provide resilience in wireless sensor networks


A wireless sensor network is liable to suffer faults for several reasons, which include faulty nodes or even the fact that nodes have been destroyed by a natural disaster, such as a flood. These faults can give rise to serious problems if WSNs do not have a reconfiguration mechanism at execution. It should be noted that many WSNs designed to detect natural disasters are deployed in inhospitable places and depend on multihop communication to allow the data to reach a sink node. As a result, a fault in a single node can leave a part of the system inoperable until the node recovers from this failure. In light of this, this article outlines a solution that entails employing unmanned aerial vehicles to reduce the problems arising from faults in a sensor network when monitoring natural disasters like floods and landslides. In the solution put forward, UAVs can be transported to the site of the disaster to mitigate problems caused by faults (e.g., by serving as routers or even acting as a data mule). Experiments conducted with real UAVs and with our WSN-based prototype for flood detection (already deployed in São Carlos, State of São Paulo, Brazil, have proven that this is a viable approach.

In Communications Magazine, IEEE.