Target Tracking with Distributed Sensors: The Focus of Attention Problem

Thumbnail Image
Penn collection
Departmental Papers (CIS)
Degree type
Grant number
Copyright date
Related resources
Isler, Volkan
Spletzer, John R.

In this paper, we investigate data fusion techniques for target tracking using distributed sensors. Specifically, we are interested in how pairs of bearing or range sensors can be best assigned to targets in order to minimize the expected error in the estimates. We refer to this as the focus of attention (FOA) problem. In its general form, FOA is NP-hard and not well approximable. However, for specific geometries we obtain significant approximation results: a 2-approximation algorithm for stereo cameras on a line, a PTAS for when the cameras are equidistant, and a 1.42 approximation for equally spaced range sensors on a circle. By reposing as a maximization problem - where the goal is to maximize the number of tracks with bounded error - we are able to leverage results from maximum set-packing to render the problem approximable. We demonstrate the results in simulation for a target tracking task, and for localizing a team of mobile agents in a sensor network. These results provide insights into sensor/target assignment strategies, as well as sensor placement in a distributed network.

Date of presentation
Conference name
Departmental Papers (CIS)
Conference dates
Conference location
Date Range for Data Collection (Start Date)
Date Range for Data Collection (End Date)
Digital Object Identifier
Series name and number
Volume number
Issue number
Publisher DOI
Journal Issue
Copyright 2003 IEEE. Reprinted from Proceedings of the 2003 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2003), Volume 1, pages 792-798. Publisher URL: This material is posted here with permission of the IEEE. Such permission of the IEEE does not in any way imply IEEE endorsement of any of the University of Pennsylvania's products or services. Internal or personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution must be obtained from the IEEE by writing to By choosing to view this document, you agree to all provisions of the copyright laws protecting it.
Recommended citation