A Heterogeneous 6G Networked Sensing Architecture with Active and Passive Anchors

Qipeng Wang, Liang Liu, Shuowen Zhang, Boya Di, Francis C.M. Lau

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


In the future 6G integrated sensing and communication (ISAC) cellular systems, networked sensing is a promising technique that can leverage the cooperation among the base stations (BSs) to perform high-resolution localization. However, a dense deployment of BSs to fully reap the networked sensing gain is not a cost-efficient solution in practice. Motivated by the advance in the intelligent reflecting surface (IRS) technology for 6G communication, this paper examines the feasibility of deploying the low-cost IRSs to enhance the anchor density for networked sensing. Specifically, we propose a novel heterogeneous networked sensing architecture, which consists of both the active anchors, i.e., the BSs, and the passive anchors, i.e., the IRSs. Under this framework, the BSs emit the orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) communication signals in the downlink for localizing the targets based on their echoes reflected via/not via the IRSs. However, there are two challenges for using passive anchors in localization. First, it is impossible to utilize the round-trip signal between a passive IRS and a passive target for estimating their distance. Second, before localizing a target, we do not know which IRS is closest to it and serves as its anchor. In this paper, we show that the distance between a target and its associated IRS can be indirectly estimated based on the length of the BS-target-BS path and the BS-target-IRS-BS path. Moreover, we propose an efficient data association method to match each target to its associated IRS. Numerical results are given to validate the feasibility and effectiveness of our proposed heterogeneous networked sensing architecture with both active and passive anchors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2024


  • 6G
  • data association
  • Integrated sensing and communication (ISAC)
  • intelligent reflecting surface (IRS)
  • networked sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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