Document Type

Conference Paper

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

M. Pajic, S. Sundaram, J. Le Ny, G. J. Pappas and R. Mangharam, "Closing the Loop: A Simple Distributed Method for Control over Wireless Networks", Proceedings of the 11th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN 2012), Beijing, China, 2012.

© ACM, 2012. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version to be published in the Proceedings of the 11th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN 2012). Email


We present a distributed scheme used for control over a network of wireless nodes. As opposed to traditional networked control schemes where the nodes simply route information to and from a dedicated controller (perhaps performing some encoding along the way), our approach, Wireless Control Network (WCN), treats the network itself as the controller. In other words, the computation of the control law is done in a fully distributed way inside the network. We extend the basic WCN strategy, where at each time-step, each node updates its internal state to be a linear combination of the states of the nodes in its neighborhood. This causes the entire network to behave as a linear dynamical system, with sparsity constraints imposed by the network topology. We demonstrate that with observer style updates, the WCN's robustness to link failures is substantially improved. Furthermore, we show how to design a WCN that can maintain stability even in cases of node failures. We also address the problem of WCN synthesis with guaranteed optimal performance of the plant, with respect to standard cost functions. We extend the synthesis procedure to deal with continuous-time plants and demonstrate how the WCN can be used on a practical, industrial application, using a process-in-the-loop setup with real hardware.


Cooperative control, decentralized control, networked control systems, wireless sensor networks


Date Posted: 02 March 2012

This document has been peer reviewed.