There has been recently a growing trend of using live video feeds in mission-critical applications. Real-time video streaming from front-end personnel or mobile agents is believed to substantially improve situational awareness in mission-critical operations such as disaster relief, law enforcement, and emergency response. Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANET) is a natural contender in such contexts. However, classical MANET routing schemes fall short in terms of scalability, bandwidth and latency; all three metrics being quite essential for mission-critical applications. As such, autonomous cooperative routing (ACR) has gained traction as the most viable MANET proposition. Nonetheless, ACR is also associated with a few implementation challenges. If they go unaddressed, will deem ACR practically useless. In this paper, efficient and low-complexity remedies to those issues are presented, analyzed, and validated. The validation is based on field experiments carried out using software-defined radio (SDR) platforms. Compared to classical MANET routing schemes, ACR was shown to offer up to 2X better throughput, more than 4X reduction in end-to-end latency, while observing a given target of transport rate normalized to energy consumption.