On-demand routing protocols have the potential to provide scalable information delivery in large ad hoc networks. The novelty of these protocols is in their approach to route discovery, where a route is determined only when it is required by initiating a route discovery procedure. Much of the research in this area has focused on reducing the route discovery overhead when prior knowledge of the destination is available at the source or by routing through stable links. Hence, many of the protocols proposed to date still resort to flooding the network when prior knowledge about the destination is un-available. This paper proposes a novel routing protocol for ad hoc networks, called On-demand Tree-based Routing Protocol (OTRP). This protocol combines the idea of hop-by-hop routing (as used by AODV) with an efficient route discovery algorithm called Tree-based Optimised Flooding (TOF) to improve scalability of ad hoc networks when there is no prior knowledge about the destination. To achieve this in OTRP, route discovery overheads are minimised by selectively flooding the network through a limited set of nodes, referred to as branching nodes. The key factors governing the performance of OTRP are theoretically analysed and evaluated, including the number of branch nodes, location of branching nodes and number of Route REQuest (RREQ) retries. It was found that the performance of OTRP (evaluated using a variety of well-known metrics) improves as the number of branching nodes increases and the number of consumed RREQ retries is reduced. Additionally, theoretical analysis and simulation results shows that OTRP outperforms AODV, DYMO, and OLSR with reduced overheads as the number of nodes and traffic load increases.
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