Articles | Volume 20, issue 5
Research article
16 Sep 2013
Research article |  | 16 Sep 2013

Distributed allocation of mobile sensing swarms in gyre flows

K. Mallory, M. A. Hsieh, E. Forgoston, and I. B. Schwartz

Abstract. We address the synthesis of distributed control policies to enable a swarm of homogeneous mobile sensors to maintain a desired spatial distribution in a geophysical flow environment, or workspace. In this article, we assume the mobile sensors (or robots) have a "map" of the environment denoting the locations of the Lagrangian coherent structures or LCS boundaries. Using this information, we design agent-level hybrid control policies that leverage the surrounding fluid dynamics and inherent environmental noise to enable the team to maintain a desired distribution in the workspace. We discuss the stability properties of the ensemble dynamics of the distributed control policies. Since realistic quasi-geostrophic ocean models predict double-gyre flow solutions, we use a wind-driven multi-gyre flow model to verify the feasibility of the proposed distributed control strategy and compare the proposed control strategy with a baseline deterministic allocation strategy. Lastly, we validate the control strategy using actual flow data obtained by our coherent structure experimental testbed.