The adoption of wireless communications and, in particular, Wi-Fi, at the lowest level of the factory automation hierarchy has not increased as fast as expected so far, mainly because of serious issues concerning determinism. Actually, besides the random access scheme, disturbance and interference prevent reliable communication over the air and, as a matter of fact, make wireless networks unable to support distributed real-time control applications properly. Several papers recently appearing in literature suggest that diversity could be leveraged to overcome this limitation effectively. In this paper, a reference architecture is introduced, which describes how seamless link-level redundancy can be applied to Wi-Fi. The framework is general enough to serve as a basis for future protocol enhancements, and also includes two optimizations aimed at improving the quality of wireless communication by avoiding unnecessary replicated transmissions. Some relevant solutions have been analyzed by means of a thorough simulation campaign, in order to highlight their benefits when compared with conventional Wi-Fi. Results show that both packet losses and network latencies improve noticeably.
2017 Best paper award for IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics
Check full paper at: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7393813