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Nano RK : A Wireless Sensor Networking Real-Time Operating System

Nano RK is a fully preemptive reservation-based real-time operating system (RTOS) from Carnegie Mellon University with multi-hop networking support for use in wireless sensor networks. Nano-RK currently runs on the FireFly Sensor Networking Platform as well as the MicaZ motes. It includes a light-weight embedded resource kernel (RK) with rich functionality and timing support using less than 2KB of RAM and 18KB of ROM. Nano-RK supports fixed-priority preemptive multitasking for ensuring that task deadlines are met, along with support for CPU, network, as well as, sensor and actuator reservations. Tasks can specify their resource demands and the operating system provides timely, guaranteed and controlled access to CPU cycles and network packets. Together these resources form virtual energy reservations that allows the OS to enforce system and task level energy budgets.


NanoRK takes advantage of priority-based preemptive scheduling to help honor the real-time factor of being deterministic thus ensuring task timeliness and synchronization. Due to the characteristic of limited battery power on the wireless node, Nano-RK provides CPU, network, and sensor efficiency through the use of virtual energy reservations, labeling this system as a resource kernel. These energy reservations can enforce energy and communication budgets to minimize the negative impact on the node’s operational lifetime from unintentional errors or malicious behavior by other nodes within the network. It supports packet forwarding, routing and other network scheduling protocols with the help of a light-weight wireless networking stack. Compared with other current sensor operating systems, Nano-RK provides rich functionality and timeliness scheduling with a small-footprint for its embedded resource kernel (RK).

Recommended: IoT OS and RTOS for Internet of Things devices


  • C GNU tool-chain
  • Classical Preemptive Operating System Multitasking Abstractions
  • Real-Time Priority Based Scheduling
  • Built-in Fault Handling
    • Task Timing Violations
    • Stack Integrity
    • Unexpected Node Restarts
    • Resource Over-Use
    • Low Voltage Detection
    • Hardware Watchdog Timer
    • Software Watchdog Timers
  • Energy Efficient Scheduling based on a-prior task-set knowledge
  • Tickless Timer
  • Small Footprint (<2K RAM, 16K ROM, including link layer)
  • SLIPstream (a simple gateway to IP network protocol and utility)
  • TimeScope (a code execution time measurement utility built into the FireFly programmer boards)
  • AVR Studio 4 Debugging (Simulating Nano-RK code on a single node using AVR Studio 4 is easy)
  • Eclipse IDE allows for easy development

Nano-RK supports various wireless link layer protocols including:

  • RT-Link for collision free Real-Time communication
  • WiDom a collision free priority based link layer
  • b-mac for low-power contention based communication
  • U-Connect a Low-Latency Energy-Efficient Asynchronous Neighbor Discovery protocol
  • PCF TDMA Flexible and simple, low-power, one-hop TDMA for both high and low data-rate collection

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Harshvardhan Mishra

Hi, I'm Harshvardhan Mishra. Tech enthusiast and IT professional with a B.Tech in IT, PG Diploma in IoT from CDAC, and 6 years of industry experience. Founder of HVM Smart Solutions, blending technology for real-world solutions. As a passionate technical author, I simplify complex concepts for diverse audiences. Let's connect and explore the tech world together! If you want to help support me on my journey, consider sharing my articles, or Buy me a Coffee! Thank you for reading my blog! Happy learning! Linkedin

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