Sensor networks require robust and efficient communication protocols to maximise the network lifetime. Radio irregularity, channel fading and interference results in larger energy consumption and latency for packet transmission over wireless channel. Cooperative multi-input multi-output (MIMO) schemes when incorporated in wireless senor network (WSN) can significantly improve the communication performance. An inefficiently designed medium access control (MAC) protocol however, may diminish the performance gains of MIMO operation. Hence, this paper proposes a distributed threshold based MAC protocol for cooperative MIMO transmissions using space time block codes (STBC). The protocol uses a thresholding scheme that is updated dynamically based on the queue length at the sending node to achieve lesser energy consumption and minimise latency ensuring the stability of transmission queues at the nodes. STBC and code combining techniques are applied to utilise the inherent spatial diversity in wireless cooperative MIMO systems. Simulation results are provided to evaluate the performance of the proposed protocol and are compared with fixed group size cooperative MIMO MAC protocols with and without STBC coding. Results show that the proposed protocol outperforms point to point communication as well as cooperative MIMO MAC protocols that use fixed group sizes. STBC technique for the proposed MAC protocol provides significant energy savings and minimises the packet delay by leveraging MIMO diversity gains
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