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Networks which are prone to experience disruptions are commonly referred to as challenged networks. The standard suite of Internet protocols (IP) assumes that a stable end-to-end path exists, that the maximum round trip time is not excessive, and that the packet drop probability is small. Networks that do not have these properties can be generally categorized as highly-mobile networks, exotic media networks (satellite communications, deep space radio frequency (RF) links, acoustic modulation (used underwater) and line-of-sight high-frequency radio or optical links), military ad hoc networks and sensor networks. They are characterized by frequent route changes, outages, high round-trip times, and vulnerability to jamming and eavesdropping.
A wide range of networking approaches has been developed to address problems with challenged networks, from modifying traditional IP-based protocols to be more tolerant of disruption and delay, to new architectures (non-native IP) that operate as application overlays. Developing non-IP protocols is a long-term approach to the problem that has benefits in reducing overhead associated with IP, as well as improving cross-layer information sharing. The downside is that retrofitting a network designed around IP-based protocols to use another network layer is difficult and costly.
To address the above, Navy scientists have developed a solution which integrates multiple networks in a seamless, application-aware fashion. In this approach, IP networks are combined with disruption tolerant networks (DTNs) in a single device – the Application-aware Automatic Network Selection (ANS) gateway router. The ANS router permits an increase the utility of both types of networks and improves the performance of data delivery. The single device ANS router incorporates state-of-the-art IP and DTN routing technologies, both of which are configured automatically by an ANS gateway. The ANS router performs: monitoring the state of IP network connectivity; context-aware selection of the better network (IP or DTN) to deliver data; automated configuration and control of IP routing behavior; self-discovery of peer gateways connected to a DTN network; translation of IP packets to DTN bundle payloads; translation of DTN bundle payloads to IP packets; manipulation of application connections to prevent timeouts; and, informing applications directly of current network conditions.
- ANS gateway router consolidates two devices, a traditional IP router and a DTN bundling router, into a single device that compares favorable in terms of cost, size, weight, power, and performance with either of the two devices it replaces
- Eliminates the need for a standalone IP gateway router, and eliminates the complexities arising from using two independently configured devices - one for IP and one for DTN, and the associated performance penalty
- No change to user applications is required in order to utilize DTN routing when IP routing is not feasible
- US patent 9,419,920 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Navy researchers