Physical Modeling and Software Synthesis for Self-Reconfigurable Sensors in River Environments

Principal Investigator:Jonathan Sprinkle (University of Arizona)
Collaborators:Sonia Martinez (UCSD), Alex Bayen (UC Berkeley)
Funding Agency:National Science Foundation
Award Number:CNS-0930919

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under award CNS-0930919, titled "Physical Modeling and Software Synthesis for Self-Reconfigurable Sensors in River Environments,".

Project Summary

The objective of this research is the transformation from static sensing into mobile, actuated sensing in dynamic environments, with a focus on sensing in tidally forced rivers. The approach is to develop inverse modeling techniques to sense the environment, coordination algorithms to distribute sensors spatially, and software that uses the sensed environmental data to enable these coordination algorithms to adapt to new sensed conditions.

This work relies on the concurrent sensing of the environment and actuation of those sensors based on sensed data. Sensing the environment is approached as a two-layer optimization problem. Since mobile sensors in dynamic environments may move even when not actuated, sensor coordination and actuation algorithms must maintain connectivity for the sensors while ensuring those sensors are appropriately located. The algorithms and software developed consider the time scales of the sensed environment, as well as the motion capabilities of the mobile sensors. This closes the loop from sensing of the environment to actuation of the devices that perform that sensing.

This work is addresses a challenging problem: the management of clean water resources. Tidally forced rivers are critical elements in the water supply for millions of Californians. By involving students from underrepresented groups, this research provides a valuable opportunity for students to develop an interest in engineering and to learn first hand about the role of science and engineering in addressing environmental issues.


  • My Tutorial at the MathWorks Faculty Summit on "Cyber-Physical Systems" can be found here.
  • My Tutorial at ECBS 2013 on "Visible to the public Mobile Device Software: Model-Based Architectures and Examples" can be found here, or a direct link to the details is here.

The poster describing Year 3 can be found here. The following papers are listed on the poster:

  • Y. Ru and S. Martinez, "Energy-based Voronoi partition in constant flow environments", submitted to IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, 2011.
  • Y. Ru and S. Martinez, "Coverage control in constant flow environments based on a mixed energy-time metric", to appear in IEEE Conf. on Decision and Control, 2012.
  • A. Tinka, M. Rafiee and A.M. Bayen. "Floating sensor networks for river studies" IEEE Systems Journal. To appear, available at
  • J. Sprinkle. "Teaching students to learn to learn mobile phone programming." In Proceedings of the compilation of the co-located workshops on DSM'11, TMC'11, AGERE!'11, AOOPES'11, NEAT'11, & VMIL'11, pages 261-266, 2011.