A UAV-Assisted Data Collection for Wireless Sensor Networks: Autonomous Navigation and Scheduling

Omar Bouhamed, Hakim Ghazzai, Hichem Besbes, Yehia Massoud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Nowadays, Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) are playing a vital and sustainable role in many verticals touching different aspects of our lives including civil, public, and military applications. WSNs majorly consist of a few to several sensor nodes, that are connected to each other via wireless communication links and require real-time or delayed data transfer. In this paper, we propose an autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-enabled data gathering mechanism for delay-tolerant WSN applications. The objective is to employ a self-trained UAV as a flying mobile unit collecting data from ground sensor nodes spatially distributed in a given geographical area during a predefined period of time. In this approach, two Reinforcement Learning (RL) approaches, specifically Deep Deterministic Gradient Decent (DDPG) and Q-learning (QL) algorithms, are jointly employed to train the UAV to understand the environment and provide effective scheduling to accomplish its data collection mission. The DDPG is used to autonomously decide the best trajectory to adopt in an obstacle-constrained environment, while the QL is developed to determine the order of nodes to visit such that the data collection time is minimized. The schedule is obtained while considering the limited battery capacity of the flying unit, its need to return the charging station, the time windows of data acquisition, and the priority of certain sensor nodes. Customized reward functions are designed for each RL model and, through numerical simulations, we investigate their training performances. We also analyze the behavior of the autonomous UAV for different selected scenarios and corroborate the ability of the proposed approach in performing effective data collection. A comparison with the deterministic optimal solution is provided to validate the performance of the learning-based approach.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110446-110460
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2022-09-13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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