Wireless energy transfer (WET) is a new technology that can be used to charge the batteries of sensor nodes without wires. Although wireless, WET does require a charging station to be brought to within reasonable range of a sensor node so that a good energy transfer efficiency can be achieved. On the other hand, it has been well recognized that data collection with a mobile base station has significant advantages over a static one. Given that a mobile platform is required for WET, a natural approach is to employ the same mobile platform to carry the base station for data collection. In this paper, we study the interesting problem of co-locating a wireless charger (for WET) and a mobile base station on the same mobile platform-the wireless charging vehicle (WCV). The WCV travels along a pre-planned path inside the sensor network.
Our goal is to minimize energy consumption of the entire system while ensuring that 1) each sensor node is charged in time so that it will never run out of energy, and 2) all data collected from the sensor nodes are relayed to the mobile base station. We develop a mathematical model for this problem (OPT-t), which is time-dependent. Instead of solving OPT-t directly, we show that it is sufficient to study a special subproblem (OPT-s) which only involves space-dependent variables. Subsequently, we develop a provably near-optimal solution to OPT-s. Our results offer a solution on how to use a single mobile platform to address both WET and data collection in sensor networks.