Energy efficiency has been the driving force behind the design of communication protocols for battery-constrained wireless sensor networks (WSNs). The energy efficiency and the performance of the proposed protocol stacks, however, degrade dramatically in case the low-powered WSNS are subject to interference from high-power wireless systems such as WLANs. In this paper we propose COG-MAC, a novel cognitive medium access control scheme (MAC) for IEEE 802.15.4-compliant WSNS that minimizes the energy cost for multihop communications, by deriving energy-optimal packet lengths and single-hop transmission distances based on the experienced interference from IEEE 802.11 WLANs.
We evaluate COG-MAC by deriving a detailed analytic model for its performance and by comparing it with previous access control schemes. Numerical and simulation results show that a significant decrease in packet transmission energy cost, up to 66%, can be achieved in a wide range of scenarios, particularly under severe WLAN interference. COG-MAC is, also, lightweight and shows high robustness against WLAN model estimation errors and is, therefore, an effective, implementable solution to reduce the WSN performance impairment when coexisting with WLANs.