Ad Hoc Networking with Directional Antennas: A Complete System Solution

Directional antennas offer tremendous potential for improving the performance of ad hoc networks. Harnessing this potential, however, requires new mechanisms at the medium access and network layers for intelligently and adaptively exploiting the antenna system. While recent years have seen a surge of research into such mechanisms, the problem of developing a complete ad hoc networking system, including the unique challenge of real-life prototype development and experimentation has not been addressed.

In this paper, we present UDAAN ("Utilizing Directional Antennas for Ad Hoc Networking"). UDAAN is an interacting suite of modular network- and MAC-layer mechanisms for adaptive control of steered or switched antenna systems in an ad hoc network. UDAAN consists of several new mechanisms a directional power-controlled MAC, neighbor discovery with beamforming, link characterization for directional antennas, proactive routing and forwarding all working cohesively to provide the first complete systems solution. We also describe the development of a real-life ad hoc network testbed using UDAAN with switched directional antennas, and we discuss the lessons learned during field trials. High fidelity simulation results, using the same networking code as in the prototype, are also presented both for a specific scenario and using random mobility models. For the range of parameters studied, our results show that UDAAN can produce up to a factor-of-10 improvement in throughput over omni-directional communications.

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