Cooperative communication is an effective method of improving the transmission performance for vehicular ad hoc networks. However, the rapid movement of vehicles leads to frequent changes in network topology and reduces the probability of successful data transmission on the medium access control (MAC) layer. In this paper, we propose an Optimal Cooperative Ad hoc MAC protocol (OCA-MAC) based on time division multiple access (TDMA). OCA-MAC utilizes multiple cooperative nodes to forward data, so as to improve the probability of successful data transmission. It chooses cooperative nodes according to direct successful transmission probability, communication range between potential helper node and destination node, and available time slot. Meanwhile, in order to avoid excessive transmission redundancy caused by multiple cooperative forwarding, the optimal number of cooperative forwarding nodes is obtained through analysis of a probabilistic model. Simulation results show that OCA-MAC improves the successful data transmission rate and reduces the number of transmission times and transmission delay compared to the multichannel TDMA MAC protocol (VeMAC) and the cooperative ad hoc MAC protocol (CAH-MAC).
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