Challenging the IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks (RPL): A Survey

Hyung Sin Kim, Jeonggil Ko, David E. Culler, Jeongyeup Paek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

194 Citations (Scopus)


RPL is the IPv6 routing protocol for low-power and lossy networks, standardized by IETF in 2012 as RFC6550. Specifically, RPL is designed to be a simple and inter-operable networking protocol for resource-constrained devices in industrial, home, and urban environments, intended to support the vision of the Internet of Things with thousands of devices interconnected through multihop mesh networks. More than four-years have passed since the standardization of RPL, and we believe that it is time to examine and understand its current state. In this paper, we review the history of research efforts in RPL; what aspects have been (and have not been) investigated and evaluated, how they have been studied, what was (and was not) implemented, and what remains for future investigation. We reviewed over 97 RPL-related academic research papers published by major academic publishers and present a topic-oriented survey for these research efforts. Our survey shows that only 40.2% of the papers evaluate RPL through experiments using implementations on real embedded devices, ContikiOS and TinyOS are the two most popular implementations (92.3%), and TelosB was the most frequently used hardware platform (69%) on testbeds that have average and median size of 49.4 and 30.5 nodes, respectively. Furthermore, unfortunately, despite it being approximately four years since its initial standardization, we are yet to see wide adoption of RPL as part of real-world systems and applications. We present our observations on the reasons behind this and suggest directions on which RPL should evolve.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8036199
Pages (from-to)2502-2525
Number of pages24
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received December 27, 2016; revised June 23, 2017; accepted August 16, 2017. Date of publication September 13, 2017; date of current version November 21, 2017. This work was supported in part by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education under Grant NRF-2017R1D1A1B03031348 and Grant NRF-2016R1A6A3A03007799, in part by the Industrial Infrastructure Program for Fundamental Technologies funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy of Korea under Grant N0002312, and in part by NSF under Grant CPS-1239552. (Corresponding author: Jeongyeup Paek.) H.-S. Kim and D. E. Culler are with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA (e-mail:;

Publisher Copyright:
© 1998-2012 IEEE.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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