Wireless ad-hoc control networks

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Bu, Shengrong
School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering - Faculty of Informatics
thesis / dissertation description
Control systems have gone through major changes over the last decades, evolving from fully analogue systems to distributed digital controllers. The initial architecture of the computer control systems was central, as all the sensors and actuators were connected to a high performance computer. As the number of sensors and actuators deployed in the control systems increased significantly, this approach revealed many weaknesses such as high cost, poor reliability, poor maintainability, and limited extensibility. With the emergence of low cost microprocessors, the computer controlled system adopted a more distributed architecture. Direct Digital Control (DDC) was the first distributed control system formally recognised in the literature and industry. Currently, control networks represent the latest development of the control systems architecture in industry. They combine localized intelligent digital controllers networked to a supervisory computer for data exchange and synchronization. A new concept called Wireless ad-hoc control networks (WACNets), as the next stage in the evolution of control systems architecture is studied in this thesis. Such systems consist of a large number of nodes with sensing and/or actuation, local intelligence and control, and data processing and communication components. The size, number, density, capabilities and location-dependency of such nodes are determined by the specific application for which the nodes are employed. The protocols and algorithms that run on the nodes could also provide self-organizing and cooperative capabilities for random deployment of the nodes. In addition to the development of a conceptual model for WACNets, a test-bed for validation of the concept based on IEEE 1451 compliant Smart Sensor and Bluetooth standard is designed and developed. In order to validate the test-bed and the concept, a monitor is also developed which provides interaction and communication with the nodes in the network from a host computer. The other contributions of the thesis include the design and development of a service discovery protocol based on Bluetooth Standard, a suite of software driving the test-bed, and validation of the test-bed. The results of the validation as presented in the thesis are quite encouraging and strongly indicate that the approach is feasible.