On CSI-Free Multiantenna Schemes for Massive Wireless-Powered Underground Sensor Networks

Radio-frequency wireless energy transfer (WET) is a promising technology to realize wireless-powered underground sensor networks (WPUSNs) and enable sustainable underground monitoring. However, due to the severe attenuation in harsh underground soil and the tight energy budget of the underground sensors, traditional WPUSNs relying on the channel state information (CSI) are highly inefficient, especially in massive WET scenarios. To address this challenge, we comparatively assess the feasibility of several state-of-the-art CSI-free multiantenna WET schemes for WPUSNs, under a given power budget. Moreover, to overcome the extremely low WET efficiency in underground channels, we propose a distributed CSI-free system, where multiple power beacons (PBs) simultaneously charge a large set of underground sensors without any CSI. We consider the position-aware K -Means and the position-agnostic equally far-from-center (EFFC) approaches for the optimal deployment of the PBs. Our results evince that the performance of the proposed distributed CSI-free system can approach or even surpass that of a traditional full-CSI WET strategy, especially when adopting an appropriate CSI-free scheme, applying the advisable PBs deployment approach, and equipping the PBs with an appropriate number of antennas. Finally, we discuss the impact of underground parameters, i.e., the burial depth of devices and the volumetric water content of soil, on the system’s performance, and identify potential challenges and research opportunities for practical distributed CSI-free WPUSNs deployment.