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Cross-layer energy optimisation of routing protocols in Wireless Sensor Networks

PhD Thesis
Szymon Fedor
Ph.D. Thesis, School of Electronic Engineering, Dublin City University
Publication year: 2008

Abstract: Recent technological developments in embedded systems have led to the emergence of a new class of networks, known as Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), where individual nodes cooperate wirelessly with each other with the goal of sensing and interacting with the environment.Many routing protocols have been developed to meet the unique and challenging characteristics of WSNs
(notably very limited power resources to sustain an expected lifetime of perhaps years, and the restricted computation, storage and communication capabilities of nodes that are nonetheless required to support large networks and diverse applications). No standards for routing have been developed yet for WSNs, nor has any protocol gained a dominant position among the research community. Routing has a significant influence on the overall WSN lifetime, and providing an energy efficient routing protocol remains an open problem. This thesis addresses the issue of designing WSN routing methods that feature energy efficiency.

A common time reference across nodes is required in most WSN applications. It is needed, for example, to time-stamp sensor samples and for duty cycling of nodes. Also many routing protocols require that nodes communicate according to some predefined schedule. However, independent distribution of the time information, without considering the routing algorithm schedule or network topology may lead to a failure of the synchronisation protocol. This was confirmed empirically, and was shown to result in loss of connectivity. This can be avoided by integrating the synchronisation service into the network layer with a so-called cross-layer approach. This approach introduces interactions between the layers of a conventional layered network stack, so that the routing layer may share information with other layers. I explore whether energy efficiency can be enhanced through the use of cross-layer optimisations and present three novel cross-layer
routing algorithms. The first protocol, designed for hierarchical, cluster based networks and called CLEAR (Cross Layer Efficient Architecture for Routing), uses the routing algorithm to distribute time information which can be used for efficient duty cycling of nodes. The second method – called RISS (Routing Integrated Synchronization Service) – integrates time synchronization into the network layer and is designed to work well in flat, non-hierarchical network topologies. The third method – called SCALE (Smart Clustering Adapted LEACH) – addresses
the influence of the intra-cluster topology on the energy dissipation of nodes. I also investigate the impact of the hop distance on network lifetime and propose a method of determining the optimal location of the relay node (the node through which data is routed in a two-hop network). I also address the problem of predicting the transition region (the zone separating the region where all packets can be received and that where no data can be received) and I describe a way of preventing the forwarding of packets through relays belonging in this transition region.

I implemented and tested the performance of these solutions in simulations and also deployed these routing techniques on sensor nodes using TinyOS. I compared the average power consumption of the nodes and the precision of time synchronization with the corresponding parameters of a number of existing algorithms. All proposed schemes extend the network lifetime and due to their
lightweight architecture they are very efficient on WSN nodes with constrained resources. Hence it is recommended that a cross-layer approach should be a feature of any routing algorithm for WSNs.