Energy-conserving data gathering by mobile mules in a spatially separated wireless sensor network

Fang Jing Wu*, Yu-Chee Tseng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This paper considers a spatially separated wireless sensor network, which consists of a number of isolated subnetworks that could be far away from each other in distance. We address the issue of using mobile mules to collect data from these sensor nodes. In such an environment, both data-collection latency and network lifetime are critical issues. We model this problem as a bi-objective problem, called energy-constrained mule traveling salesman problem (EM-TSP), which aims at minimizing the traversal paths of mobile mules such that at least one node in each subnetwork is visited by a mule and the maximum energy consumption among all sensor nodes does not exceed a pre-defined threshold. Interestingly, the traversal problem turns out to be a generalization of the classical traveling salesman problem (TSP), an NP-complete problem. With some geometrical properties of the network, we propose some efficient heuristics for EM-TSP. We then extend our heuristics to multiple mobile mules. Extensive simulation results have been conducted, which show that our proposed solutions usually give much better solutions than most TSP-like approximations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1369-1385
Number of pages17
JournalWireless Communications and Mobile Computing
Issue number15
StatePublished - 25 Oct 2013


  • data gathering
  • data mule
  • energy conservation
  • mobile sensor
  • traveling salesman problem (TSP)
  • wireless sensor network

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