Decentralized active control of multistory civil structure with wireless smart sensor nodes

Lauren E. Linderman, B. F. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Wireless smart sensors, a popular option for structural health monitoring, are an exciting alternative to traditional tethered systems for structural control. Their onboard communication, sensing, actuation, and processing capabilities offer all the components for feedback control to limit structural response during earthquakes and wind. However, wireless smart sensors pose unique challenges for structural control including communication latency, delays, and data loss. Previous research in wireless structural control has used decentralized control approaches to overcome these inherent limitations. However, these experimental investigations have focused on semiactive control systems, in which stability is guaranteed. Thus, the semiactive wireless control implementations are less sensitive to delays and sampling rate limitations imposed by the smart sensors. This paper presents an experimental investigation of decentralized wireless active control. All the elements of the wireless control system are addressed to limit latency and ensure stability: data acquisition hardware, embedded control software, and control design at slow sampling rates. Both the centralized and fully decentralized wireless control systems limit the response of the structure when subjected to ground motion. The fully decentralized control system is able to achieve comparable performance to the traditional wired system used for comparison. Additionally, the decentralized control system offers robustness to node failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04016078
JournalJournal of Engineering Mechanics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants CMMI-0928886 and CNS-1035773.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers.


  • Decentralized control
  • Structural control
  • Wireless smart sensors


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