What You Need to Know About UWB Positioning Technology with 10cm Accuracy

In the digital age, the demand for high-speed and reliable communication technology is becoming increasingly urgent. Ultra-wideband (UWB) technology has become a hot topic in the field of communication today. This article will delve into the principles of UWB Positioning, its advantages, and its applications in various fields, leading readers to explore the limitless possibilities of this disruptive technology.

Overview of UWB Technology

Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology is a wireless communication technology based on ultra-short pulses. It does not use sinusoidal carriers, but instead utilizes nanosecond-level non-sinusoidal narrow pulses to transmit data, resulting in a wide spectrum range, and data transmission rates of up to several hundred megabits per second. Using UWB technology allows for the transmission of signals across a very wide bandwidth. The regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for UWB technology state that it occupies a bandwidth of over 500MHz in the frequency range of 3.1 to 10.6GHz.

UWB technology is not a new technology; it originated from pulse communication technology that emerged in the 1960s, primarily used in military radars, positioning, and low probability of intercept/low probability of detection communication systems. It began to be applied in civilian fields after 2002.

Principles of UWB Positioning Technology

UWB essentially employs ultra-low-duty-cycle impulse pulses as information carriers in a carrierless spread spectrum technique. These pulse signals have extremely short durations, ranging from tens to hundreds of picoseconds, yet possess high energy. By transmitting these ultra-short pulse signals into space and utilizing their characteristics in the time and frequency domains, the receiver can achieve high-precision positioning and communication by analyzing the signal's delay and magnitude. The positioning algorithms of UWB are divided into Time of Flight (TOF), Time of Arrival (TOA), and Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA), with TOF and TDOA being the most commonly used.

The Time Of Flight (TOF) Algorithm

The Time Of Flight (TOF) algorithm primarily utilizes the flight time of the signal between two asynchronous UWB transceivers to measure the distance between nodes. When the UWB signal is transmitted from the transmitter end, it carries an independent timestamp. Upon receiving and processing the UWB signal at the receiver end, it is retransmitted with the timestamp received from the transmitter end and the processing time interval Tr added. When the UWB signal is received again at the transmitter end, the time stamp of the first transmission can be parsed to determine the round-trip time Tt of the signal. Thus, the one-way flight time of the signal can be calculated as Tf = (Tt-Tr)/2. Since the propagation speed of electromagnetic waves is the speed of light C, the distance between the two points d can be calculated as d = Tf * C.

Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA)

Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA) is a positioning method based on the difference in distance between each reference base station and the target object (Tag), inferred by solving a nonlinear hyperbolic equation set. When the times between the base stations are perfectly synchronized, and the oscillator errors are minimal over a period of time, the time difference is equal to the distance difference, as the propagation speed of electromagnetic waves is constant. When a signal is transmitted from the Tag end and reaches several base station ends, measuring the differences in the arrival times of the signal at each base station allows for the calculation of the corresponding differences in distance.

Advantages of UWB Positioning Technology

  • High Positioning Accuracy: UWB pulses are only 2 nanoseconds (ns) wide, unaffected by reflected signals (multipath) interference and noise, enabling precise determination of arrival time and distance even in common signal reflection and multipath effects scenarios, achieving measurement and positioning accuracy within 10 centimeters.
  • Strong Anti-interference Capability: UWB signals possess wide spectrum characteristics and exhibit good anti-interference properties in multipath propagation environments, accurately identifying target locations even in complex indoor or dense urban environments.
  • High Data Transmission Rates: In commercial products, the transmission range of UWB signals is generally within 10 meters, achieving data transmission rates of up to 500 Mbit/s, making UWB technology an ideal modulation technique for personal communication and wireless LANs.

Limitations of UWB Positioning Technology

  • Limited Positioning Range: The positioning range of UWB is constrained by spatial limitations, typically suitable for indoor or close-range outdoor areas, unsuitable for large-scale outdoor environments.
  • Relatively High Deployment Cost: Implementing a UWB Positioning system requires complex hardware and software designs compared to other positioning technologies like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, increasing development and deployment costs and may necessitate professional engineering teams for design and maintenance.

Applications of UWB Positioning Technology

  • Electronic Fences: Real-time positioning of individuals within specific areas, monitoring movement and stationary personnel.
  • Motion Tracking: Monitoring of positions and movement trajectories during mobility (record trajectory).
  • Video Surveillance: Real-time monitoring of on-site scenes, device status, and capturing images and video information.
  • Alarm Function: Feedback of abnormal conditions collected from the monitoring site to the control center for relevant personnel to take timely measures.

Application Cases:For example, in mines, using UWB personnel positioning systems can monitor the real-time location information of miners and quickly locate trapped personnel in the event of an accident, improving rescue efficiency. Additionally, in high-altitude operations or complex environments, using UWB personnel positioning systems can precisely monitor the positions of workers, promptly identify anomalies, and take corresponding measures to reduce accidents. Furthermore, deploying UWB nodes in workshops can achieve real-time positioning and trajectory planning for robots, AGVs (automated guided vehicles), and other equipment, enhancing production efficiency and flexibility.

Future Development of UWB Positioning Technology

Although UWB Positioning currently faces challenges such as high cost, technical difficulty, and small market demand, it boasts the greatest advantage: accuracy. Compared with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other positioning technologies, UWB Positioning accuracy rivals that of laser positioning. With the continuous exploration of new industry applications and the continuous decrease in cost, the true outbreak time of UWB Positioning technology will not be too late. Moreover, the integration of UWB technology with IoT, artificial intelligence, 5G, and other fields will increasingly enhance its importance in the future.

Feasycom's UWB Positioning Kit

Feasycom-WMK-K2 (UWB) is a combination of products based on the UWB protocol, which can quickly evaluate sub-meter-level precise positioning requirements. The IoT platform, FeasyCloud, supplemented by UWB base station gateways and Tag tags, can help realize asset positioning, asset protection, alarm management, and other functions. It can also be combined with more sensor devices in the warehouse management kit K1 (based on Bluetooth BLE protocol) to jointly provide a more complete warehouse solution.

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