Terrestrial Micropositioning for US Office of Science & Technology

Transcript Summary

Thank you I really appreciate you inviting me in today. Today I will be talking about terrestrial positioning technology as an alternative to global positioning satellite systems and other satellite-based technologies that are being used. This came out of an executive order that was issued last year in February. Basically because of the security concern over GPS, GNSS jamming, and GPS signals, they were really looking for some other positional navigational services to help augment or take the place of some of the GPS in gnss satellite system technologies for positioning on a large scale bases across the globe. So as part of this development I helped prepare this presentation and report for the Office of Science & Technology Policy. I’d be happy to take any questions at the end.  

The GPS/GNSS suffer from weaknesses in jamming, spoofing and poor quality in cities, tunnels, and mountainous areas. Where you can have a very poor location accuracy but also the danger of losing your location signal together or being told you’re in a different location than you actually are so this is concerning using GPS technology. One of the solutions I want to talk about is Ultra Wideband (UWB) micro-positioning will really make a big difference moving forward. I’ll give you some applications and how it’s being applied.  

For one thing the cell companies have recognized the advantage of the sole surviving technologies and then iPhone 11 + 12 + Samsung Ultras and notes corporate ultra-wideband in the cell phone are able to give you precision location. The thing about this technology is it does give you 10 centimeter accuracy location and you can actually and iOS 14 + Apple phone. You can actually access the chip to be able to do locationing through cooperative communication between multiple devices. How this technology really works is you have more than one device talking to each other and they can tell you the accurate distance between those devices. So you either set up anchor points around the area where you want to get accurate location in whether it’s an indoor area or an area in tunnels that have GPS deprive locations, you can set up anchor points or reference points around that area. Then your mobile device whether by on a cell phone or on a car or other mobile units and tell exactly where it is within a 10 cm accuracy.  

Application Fields Using UWB Micro-Positioning 

When you start thinking about micro-positioning it opens up a world of applications. Not only transportation within smart cities, various commercial products that you can start using this micro-positioning capability, business operations, covid and other applications like that that have been developing more recently. Construction areas have been used for quite a while especially in the mining industry. The retail applications for accurate positioning are numerous and factoring warehouse use of technology from the years as well. Security as well, drone, and other homeland aspects as well are among some of the applications you can start thinking about with this micro-positioning technology.  

If you’re familiar with the connected vehicle battle area. There’s been a battle raging for the last 10 years or so over what technology to use for connected vehicle applications from vehicles talking to each other from vehicles talking to the infrastructure. Some of this technology has been going back and forth in the battle between the DSRC which is dedicated short-range communication and the cellular v2x communication which is a standard push to try to have this vehicle to vehicle communication. The requirements to this communication is that they provide updates in location of the position of the vehicles relative to each other into the infrastructure 10 times a second so it’s really meant for low latency applications and safety-critical applications for vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure applications. Recently in November, the FCC made a ruling to not allow the DSRC to use it. So they wanted 5.9 gigahertz so they’ve kind of eliminated them and said they won’t be able to access that within a few years. So all the people who have been putting their bank of using that, the DOT and others have to look for an alternative method.  

One of the theories about this whole idea is that some idea technology it’s going to kind of be coming to mobile location standard so not only can you locate other devices to high accuracy with this technology but you can also do vehicle to vehicle vehicle infrastructure communications with it as well and it has the ability to carry that of other messaging between various locations as well as the high accuracy positioning. This is demonstrated in several deployments in UWB, the New York City pilot on select vehicles demonstrated on 6th Avenue, the accuracy capability of this was demonstrated. The MTA subway which is actively using those who use technology for locating the trains and in the tunnels or communication based train control. They actually have two tunnels for adult driving now and they’re going to have the rest of their lines implemented to the technology.  

There’s a big deployment down in Clemson – what T-Mobile and Sprint did with the university to deploy UWB micro location around the university. Even though the university has very low buildings or not very tall buildings, they were finding that 50% of their time they were finding location accuracy was diminished with the GNSS and GPS capability. They found that this was about to give them pinpoint accuracy on campus.  

Connected Vehicle (CV) Applications Need Lane Level or Better Accuracy GPS Can’t Provide 

These are some of the applications that connected vehicle technology we’re addressing but I think the USDRT probably got ahead of itself listening to a lot of these applications because the advantages of the connected vehicle communication were the low-latency were 10x the second or better type of communications for more safety applications. A lot of these applications aren’t safely critical and can live with a little higher latency. So a cellar technology with a LT works perfectly fine to communicate those applications. Now that cellphones in the cellar industries are starting to incorporate UWB even the safety applications can start implementing those technologies.  

One of the problems with GPS is CV relies on GPS satellites for positioning accuracy. They can try to improve those accuracy from a local base and try to correct your GPS accuracy signal from those atmosphere positions in that local area. This is some of the differential real time GPS in other forms of being able to correct your locations. Again the GPS signal coming from space is a very low signal so it’s very easily lost in the background noise in multi-paths and can affect the accuracy in location capability of those satellite signals. That’s why they become very easy targets, spoofs as well. So they can provide the accuracy location but relying on them for all situations especially in safely critical situations, it’s not the best to take.  

GNSS with high accuracy location still last two security that can be jamming to it has limited positioning capabilities because there are delays in the positioning as you go around turns and you don’t make any change in direction there’s some latency associate with that accuracy that information so they do have limited edition capability in any kind of multiplayer so I could take him throw away off so your position accuracy become very poor. They also have limited operations trying to maintain. They’re great for most of the globe that’s not in an urban canyon or a mountainous area or in the tunnel. It’s a great way to deploy technology now in open road environment conditions. The conditions that probably need this micro positioning the most is going to be in the cities. It’s going to be in the tunnels, in other environments where you need that high position accuracy. If anyone’s ever tried to use their Uber list from their handheld device in a major city you can’t even see your position well enough to know what block you’re on a lot of time so they have to use corrective software to try to tell you to walk to this corner instead of your actual location.  

Precision Accuracy Considerations 

For micro-positioning, you don’t have those limitations. You can get high accuracy without having to worry about jamming. It isn’t subjected to narrow jammers. It’s very low power and spreads over a gigahertz or more, the bandwidth is a nanosecond pulse or less than a nanosecond so it’s hard to jam. It has been used in the military since the early 80s. It really helps in those environments. This is an example on the right of GPS is the red line. There’s a red line with a odometer correction on the vehicle down 6th Avenue and even with the odometer correction and smoothing you still have a pretty poor GPS signal going down 6 Avenue. With a blue line, is the ultra wideband install down 6th Avenue. I can see the difference in accuracy location was down 2 again a couple centimeters down 6th Avenue.  

Connected Vehicles Lessons Learned 

This is a little bit about the demonstration that was done in New York. Again in 2 hours, this city was able to install 25 light posts down 6th Avenue using the existing power from the light posts and the standard nmea connectors on the light post. What the connected vehicles lessons learned is that urban canyon, tunnels, reflectivity of buildings create challenges for GPS. NYC pilots showed UWB iis needed to provide better location accuracy in the city. Now especially with the cellar devices starting to include the chip in the cell phones. You have the ability to do this micro-ability to do this on a wider scale throughout these urban environments. Dozens of new applications are being developed with technology. If you can have this type of micro-positioning it can open a whole host of applications that can be done with technology.  

For some of the description – this is a description that was done in the smart city of Greenville with Sprint T-Mobile team and a team called waitlist to install different technologies in that environment. There was a group of people developing the technology to deploy this project  consortium in it in the Clemson campus deployment. They basically use the 5G mobile technology integrated with micro-positioning at the centimeter level to provide a lot of functionality for smart cities and even autonomous vehicle projects throughout the campus there.  

They combined in 5G positioning and various applications that they developed the technology and we’re able to have a system that enables all these technologies to work together to provide the Internet of Things positioning it’s going to be needed for these future applications. Scalable approaches this UWB that allow them to use UWB and locations with other bluetooth and you another Wi-Fi technology to assist and as well as be able to use other GPS in other areas in these coverage areas as well.  

UWB Driven Mobile Electric Vehicle Charger 

There was another technology developed by Waitless looking at connected vehicle applications for electric vehicles. This is an example that was done at JFK airport that was done with Waitless. It’s going to give you an idea of a mobile electric vehicle charger that comes to the vehicle autonomously instead of having a vehicle to park in an electric charger’s space.  

Again this example is one application of this technology for autonomous electric chargers but autonomous vehicles in general need a high accuracy independent location system moving forward. Existing most of the autonomous vehicles use GPS for navigation but a lot of their operations designs domains are not in regions that have good GPS. If they rely on that for their navigation it’s going to severely impact the capability of their systems. To several vendors to try the other Technologies Vision based Technologies and things to figure out where they are but the vision surrounding can change over time and it’d be hard to interpret with this network deploy especially if it gets deployed as part of the cellular networks are moving forwards then you’ll be able to get this accurate location from the existing 5G access points that are deployed more widely. Not all the self providers commit to deploy this technology but T-Mobile and Sprint are definitely one to believe in the technology and are pushing it forward as a standard for micro-positioning and IoT applications.  

For a connected automotive vehicle with this type of positioning can solve a lot of the problems that GPS hasn’t been accurate enough to solve for vehicle applications especially for automotive vehicle applications. 

Connected Automated Vehicle Taxonomy 

There’s a new SAE J3216 as a new taxonomy for automated on the road driving definition that there’s a blessing in the whole area of automation is becoming more and more common throughout the world on a wider scale. I’ve been working with several organizations to define this level of accuracy.  

If you look at sensor limitation using various technologies for automation you can have radar Vision Lidar and they’re good in some environments. In some environments they just don’t have the capability to operate and your whole case for automated operation starts falling apart. You got heavy snow or ice maybe, all those sensor systems start failing if they can’t see things that are beyond their line of sight for the sensor technologies. In tunnels, urban canyons have poor operating capabilities. So that’s where vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to infrastructure  communication with UWB can fill in a lot of these holes in the capabilities of automotive vehicles.  

This is not only for looking forward in these situations but also there’s lateral applications looking and finding where the lane lines are – Lateral Control. If there’s anything covering those lane lines you won’t be able to see where those lines are. UWB geocodes all the roadways in the country to very high accuracies so that you don’t actually need lane lines anymore because you can electronically see where all the lanes are. You can change those lines very easily if you’re doing work zones or other maintenance. They can be changed by the regional DOT’s electronically. 

One of the projects we’re deploying this on has been a lengthy tunnel in New York where every day they have an exclusive bus lane from 6 AM to 10 AM. They go out and change those chain lines so only the buses use that lane during that time period. So instead of having to physically go out to change those lines everyday you can implement these virtual electronic lanes that can be adjusted on a time by time basis. So there are a variety of those applications to implement this technology and for automation. 

Ultrawideband at MTA NYC 

This is another project in New York that we did with MTA. Here’s a couple other lanes of technology that MTA is installed on a couple of their lines you saw. The one we saw here was the 7 line, they have another vendor event incorporating the canarsie line and a general one about the MTA challenge. The beginning of those projects they did have a capital project of 150 million plans to the coil for wide bands on all the train lines in the subway.  

UWB Wearables 

Some of the advantages of technology is since it’s at the chip level it can incorporate a much smaller footprint and so in addition to tracking trains and other vehicles you can use it for track worker protection by just putting a badge or some other device on. The track worker is on their safety vests. They’re on their helmet. They can be used for tracking them and knowing to send alerts to them if a train is approaching but also to alert the engineers as the track activity going on and there’s active users in the track so being able to track the safety workers is a big issue in a loud environment lines along the highway in other applications such as homeland security applications and airports making sure you have the appropriate personnel in the area that give you a lot of applications. There’s also been some recent applications of using this technology for Covid contact tracing because of accuracy. You can tell when people are closer than 6ft and provide alerts to operational staff if there’s too much clustering of people in your work environment. So these can be used for a lot of those applications.  

We’ve been talking about variest augmented reality applications with homeland and other glasses being able to use the precise location of UWB in those types of applications. There’s a commercial application with remote control for your tv that can give you better accuracy by pointing your remote control at different devices that you want to change channels or volume on. Again there are so many applications for this small chip based technology that you can begin to start looking at it. 

Market Size 

The application market for this is huge going forward. The Connected Vehicle Market is anticipated to be about $166B by 2025, 25% increase from 2020 till 2025. The Automated Vehicle Market is estimated to be $556.67B by 2026. The IoT Market in general with all the IoT applications 1.3 trillion dollar market by 2026. So this is a key technology in this area. There’s a lot of companies starting to catch up to these areas of applications and looking forward to where this technology is going.  

Thank you for your time today inviting me to present. I’m happy to answer any questions that anyone might have at this point.  


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