Case ID: M19-205P

Published: 2020-09-23 14:08:57

Last Updated: 1677136012


Sharanya Srinivas
Andrew Herschfelt
Daniel Bliss

Technology categories

Computing & Information TechnologyIntelligence & SecurityPhysical ScienceWireless & Networking

Technology keywords

Communications Systems

Licensing Contacts

Physical Sciences Team

Hyper-Precise Positioning and Communications for Radio Networks: Iterative Parameter Tracking

Vehicle positioning systems assist operators in travel and operation of air and ground vehicles. For example, aircraft positioning systems assist operators in critical tasks such as landing and takeoff, particularly in low-visibility conditions. Aircraft positioning systems are also key components of remotely controlled tasks such as drone operation. Traditionally, vehicle positioning systems have contended with tradeoffs between accuracy of measurement and spectral efficiency, where higher-bandwidth signals are required for increased position resolution. Use of positioning technologies in increasingly cluttered environments only furthers technical challenges. In addition, vehicle positioning signals have traditionally been segregated from communications signals, requiring dedicated bands for each. Thus, legacy radio systems do not support modern performance requirements or user densities.


Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a distributed radio frequency (RF) communications system which provides users with simultaneous communication and high-precision positioning capabilities with minimal spectral requirements. The system facilitates high-precision estimations of positions, orientations, velocities, and acceleration of network nodes in a distributed RF network (e.g., including base stations and vehicles, such as aircraft or unmanned aerial systems (UASs)). This system specifically addresses the issue of spectral congestion by employing an extremely efficient positioning strategy and using a joint waveform that simultaneously enables both tasks. This efficiency in turn supports more users in a given frequency allocation.

The distributed RF communications system incorporates a series of estimation processes which can make it susceptible to propagation of errors. To ensure robustness of the distributed RF communications system, relative positions of network nodes are tracked by iteratively tracking parameters used for estimating position information. At every network node, several filtering algorithms can be employed to synchronize clocks, track delay between multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antennas and estimate position and orientation of other network nodes. Information from other sensors like global positioning system (GPS) and inertial navigation system (INS) can also be employed to further improve estimation processes.


Potential Applications:

  • Communication-based location services
  • Aircraft position detection
  • Ground vehicle position detection
  • Navigation for automated air and ground vehicles


Benefits and Advantages:

  • Efficient – Produces high-precision position estimates with significantly fewer spectral resources than comparable techniques such as radar and global positioning systems (GPS)
  • Self-Contained – Does not require external infrastructure (such as a mesh of satellites)
  • Secure – Features encrypted communication to guard against spoofing and adversarial interference
  • Versatile – Compatible with existing platforms and standard, consumer-grade software-defined radios