Distributed localization using a moving beacon in wireless sensor networks

Bin Xiao, Hekang Chen, Shuigeng Zhou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


The localization of sensor nodes is a fundamental problem in sensor networks and can be implemented using powerful and expensive beacons. Beacons, the fewer the better, can acquire their position knowledge either from GPS devices or by virtue of being manually placed. In this paper, we propose a distributed method to localization of sensor nodes using a single moving beacon where sensor nodes compute their position estimate based on the range-free technique. Critical to the location accuracy of sensor nodes are two parameters, the radio transmission range of the beacon, and how often the beacon broadcasts its position. Theoretical analysis shows that these two parameters determine the upper bound of the estimation error when the traverse route of the beacon is a straight line. We extend the position estimate when the traverse route of the beacon is randomly chosen in the real-world situation. To minimize estimation errors, sensor nodes can carry out a variety of algorithms in accordance with the movement of the beacon. Simulation results compare variants of the distributed method in a variety of testing environments. Real experiments show that the proposed method is feasible and can estimate the location of sensor nodes accurately given a single moving beacon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-600
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008


  • Distributed localization
  • Moving beacon
  • Radio irregularity
  • Range-free

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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