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International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 938521, 16 pages
Research Article

A Scalable Multi-Target Tracking Algorithm for Wireless Sensor Networks

School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, ASRI, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-744, Republic of Korea

Received 21 March 2012; Accepted 31 May 2012

Academic Editor: Hasan Cam

Copyright © 2012 Songhwai Oh. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Multi-target tracking is a representative real-time application of sensor networks as it exhibits different aspects of sensor networks such as event detection, sensor information fusion, multihop communication, sensor management, and real-time decision making. The task of tracking multiple objects in a wireless sensor network is challenging due to constraints on a sensor node such as short communication and sensing ranges, a limited amount of memory, and limited computational power. In addition, since a sensor network surveillance system needs to operate autonomously without human operators, it requires an autonomous real-time tracking algorithm which can track an unknown number of targets. In this paper, we develop a scalable real-time multi-target tracking algorithm that is autonomous and robust against transmission failures, communication delays, and sensor localization error. The algorithm is based on a rigorous probabilistic model and an approximation scheme for the optimal Bayesian filter. In particular, an extensive simulation study shows that there is no performance loss up to an average localization error of 0.7 times the separation between sensors and the algorithm tolerates up to 50% lost-to-total packet ratio and 90% delayed-to-total packet ratio. The proposed algorithm has been successfully applied to real-time multi-target tracking problems using wireless sensor networks.