Section: Application Domains

A large variety of application domains

Sensor and actuator networks are ubiquitous in modern world, thanks to the advent of cheap small devices endowed with communication and computation capabilities. Potential application domains for research in networked control and in distributed estimation are extremely various, and include the following examples.

  • Intelligent buildings, where sensor information on CO2 concentration, temperature, room occupancy, etc. can be used to control the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system under multi-objective considerations of comfort, air quality, and energy consumption.

  • Smart grids: the operation of electrical networks is changing from a centralized optimization framework towards more distributed and adaptive protocols, due to the high number of small local energy producers (e.g., solar panels on house roofs) that now interact with the classic large power-plants.

  • Disaster relief operations, where data collected by sensor networks can be used to guide the actions of human operators and/or to operate automated rescue equipment.

  • Inertial navigation and surveillance using swarms of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), where sensor information (from sensors on the ground and/or on-board) can be used to guide the UAVs to accomplish their mission.

  • Environmental monitoring and exploration using self-organized fleets of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), collaborating in order to reach a goal such as finding a pollutant source or tracing a seabed map.

  • Infrastructure security and protection using smart camera networks, where the images collected are shared among the cameras and used to control the cameras themselves (pan-tilt-zoom) and ensure tracking of potential threats.

  • Collaborative indoor and outdoor navigation of pedestrians.

In particular, NeCS team is currently focusing in the areas described in detail below.