Articles | Volume 20, issue 5
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 657–668, 2013

Special issue: Nonlinear dynamics in oceanic and atmospheric flows: theory...

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 657–668, 2013

Research article 16 Sep 2013

Research article | 16 Sep 2013

Distributed allocation of mobile sensing swarms in gyre flows

K. Mallory1, M. A. Hsieh1, E. Forgoston2, and I. B. Schwartz3 K. Mallory et al.
  • 1SAS Lab, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
  • 2Department of Mathematical Sciences, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA
  • 3Nonlinear Systems Dynamics Section, Plasma Physics Division, Code 6792, US Naval Research Lab, Washington, DC 20375, USA

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.