Opportunistic Communications for Networked Controlled Systems of Autonomous Vehicles
Date: October 31 - November 03, 2010
Situational awareness requires maintaining a reasonable level of communication connectivity in networks of autonomous vehicles. It is difficult to overcome deep fading from time-varying wireless channels in a dynamic and resource constrained environment. Moreover, other system constraints such as the energy consumption and total operation time make the design of communication protocols for such systems more challenging. In this paper, we consider the problem of efficient communications between a group of autonomous vehicles with energy consumption and total operation time constraints in an adversarial environment. We show that the policy of continuously attempting to communicate reliably over the course of the mission may lead to considerable system degradation. We propose an adaptive algorithm to make communication attempts opportunistically, based on the qualities of the wireless channels as the vehicles move throughout the terrain. We compare the proposed algorithm with a non-opportunistic algorithm in which the vehicles blindly attempt to communicate regularly throughout the course of the mission. We show that the proposed algorithm significantly improves the system performance, both in terms of operation time when the agents transmit only situational information and data throughput when additional data transmission is necessary.