Real-Time and Reliable Communication in Wireless Sensor and Actor Networks

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Gungor, Vehbi Cagri
Akyildiz, Ian F.
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Wireless Sensor and Actor Networks (WSANs) are composed of heterogeneous nodes referred to as sensors and actors. Sensors are low-cost, low-power, multi-functional devices that communicate untethered in short distances. Actors collect and process sensor data and perform appropriate actions on the environment. Hence, actors are resource-rich devices equipped with higher processing and transmission capabilities, and longer battery life. In WSANs, the collaborative operation of the sensors enables the distributed sensing of a physical phenomenon. After sensors detect an event in the deployment field, the event data is distributively processed and transmitted to the actors, which gather, process, and eventually reconstruct the event data. WSANs can be considered a distributed control system designed to react to sensor information with an effective and timely action. For this reason, in WSANs it is important to provide real-time coordination and communication to guarantee timely execution of the right actions. The energy efficiency of the networking protocols is also a major concern, since sensors are resource-constrained devices. Hence, the unique characteristics and challenges coupled with the limitations of wireless environments call for novel networking protocols for WSANs. The objective of this research is to develop new communication protocols to support real-time and reliable event data delivery with minimum energy consumption in WSANs. The proposed solutions dynamically adjust their protocol configurations to adapt to the heterogeneous characteristics of WSANs. Specifically, the interactions between contention resolution and congestion control mechanisms as well as the physical layer effects in WSANs are investigated. Next, a real-time and reliable transport protocol is proposed to achieve reliable and timely event detection with congestion avoidance in WSANs. In addition, a resource-aware and link-quality-based routing protocol is presented to address energy limitations and link quality variations in WSANs. Finally, the electric utility automation applications of WSANs are presented and the propagation characteristics of wireless channel in different utility environments are investigated.
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