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RPL (IPv6 Routing protocol)

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RPL stands for Routing Protocol for Low Power and Lossy Networks for heterogeneous traffic networks. It is a routing protocol for Wireless Networks. This protocol is based on the same standard as by Zigbee and 6 Lowpan is IEEE 802.15.4 It holds both many-to-one and one-to-one communication.

It is a Distance Vector Routing Protocol that creates a tree-like routing topology called the Destination Oriented Directed Acyclic Graph (DODAG), rooted towards one or more nodes called the root node or sink node.

The Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs) are created based on user-specified specific Objective Function (OF). The OF defines the method to find the best-optimized route among the number of sensor devices.

Directed Acyclic Graph

Directed Acyclic Graph

The IETF chartered the ROLL (Routing Over Low power and Lossy networks) working group to evaluate all three routing protocols and determine the needs and requirements for developing a routing solution for IP smart objects. After the study of various use cases and a survey of existing protocols, the consensus was that a new routing protocol should be developed for IP smart objects, given the characteristics and requirements of the constrained network. This new Distance Vector Routing Protocol was named the IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low power and Lossy networks(RPL). The RPL specification was published as RFC 6550 by the ROLL working group.

In an RPL Network, each node acts as a router and becomes part of a mesh network. Routing is performed at the IP Layer. Each node examines every received IPv6 packet and determines the next-hop destination based on the information contained in the IPv6 header. No information from the MAC layer header is needed to perform the next determination.

Modes of RPL:

This protocol defines two modes:

1. Storing mode: All modes contain the entire routing table of the RPL domain. Every node knows how to reach every other node directly.

2. Non-Storing mode: Only the border router(s) of the RPL domain contain(s) the full routing table. All other nodes in the domain maintain their list of parents only and use this as a list of default routes towards the border router. The abbreviated routing table saves memory space and CPU. When communicating in non-storing mode, a node always forwards its packet to the border router, which knows how to ultimately reach the final destination.

RPL is based on the concept of a Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG). A DAG is Directed Graph where no cycle exists. This means that from any vertex or point in the graph, we cannot follow an edge or a line back to this same point. All of the edges are arranged in a path oriented toward and terminating at one or more root nodes.

A basic RPL process involves building a Destination Oriented Directed Acyclic Graph (DODAG). A DODAG is a DAG rooted in one destination. In RPL this destination occurs at a border router known as the DODAG root. In a DODAG,  three parents maximum are maintained by each node that provides a path to the root. Typically one of these parents is the preferred parent, which means it is the preferred next hop for upward roots towards the root. The routing graph created by the set of DODAG parents across all nodes defines the full set of upwards roots. RPL protocol information should ensure that routes are loop-free by disallowing nodes from selected DODAG parents positioned further away from a border router.

Implementation of RPL Protocol:

The RPL protocol is implemented using the Contiki Operating system. This Operating System majorly focuses on IoT devices, more specifically Low Power Wireless IoT devices. It is an Open source Model and was first bought into the picture by Adam Dunkels.

The RPL protocol mostly occurs in wireless sensors and networks. Other similar Operating Systems include T-Kernel, EyeOS, LiteOS, etc.

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Last Updated : 31 Aug, 2022
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