Task Allocation for Event-Aware Spatiotemporal Sampling of Environmental Variables
Monitoring of environmental phenomena with embedded networked sensing confronts the challenges of both unpredictable variability in the spatial distribution of phenomena, coupled with demands for a high spatial sampling rate in three dimensions. For example, low distortion mapping of critical solar radiation properties in forest environments may require two-dimensional spatial sampling rates of greater than 10 samples/m2 over transects exceeding 1000 m2 . Clearly, adequate sampling coverage of such a transect requires an impractically large number of sensing nodes. A new approach, Networked Infomechanical System (NIMS), has been introduced to combine autonomous-articulated and static sensor nodes enabling sufficient spatiotemporal sampling density over large transects to meet a general set of environmental mapping demands.
This paper describes our work on a critical parts of NIMS, the Task Allocation module. We present our methodologies and the two basic greedy Task Allocation policies - based on time of the task arrival (Time policy) and distance from the robot to the task (Distance policy). We present results from NIMS deployed in a forest reserve and from a lab testbed. The results show that both policies are adequate for the task of spatiotemporal sampling, but also complement each other. Finally, we suggest the future direction of research that would both help us better quantify the performance of our system and create more complex policies combining time, distance, information gain, etc.