New system can track robots, soldiers without GPS


New system can track robots, soldiers without GPSWASHINGTON: Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed an algorithm that can help locate humans and robots in areas where GPS is unavailable.

According to scientists at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), they need to be able to localise agents operating in physically complex, unknown and infrastructure-poor environments.

"This capability is critical to help find dismounted Soldiers and for humans and robotic agents to team together effectively," said Gunjan Verma, a researchers at ARL.

"In most civilian applications, solutions such as GPS work well for this task, and help us, for example, navigate to a destination via our car," said Verma.

However, such solutions are not suitable for the military environment.

"For example, an adversary may destroy the infrastructure (eg satellites) needed for GPS; alternatively, complex environments (eg inside a building) are hard for the GPS signal to penetrate," said Fikadu Dagefu from ARL.

"This is because complex and cluttered environments impede the straight-line propagation of wireless signals," he said.

Dagefu said that obstacles inside the building, especially when their size is much larger than the wavelength of the wireless signal, weaken the power of the signal and re-direct its flow, making a wireless signal very unreliable for communicating information about location.

According to the researchers, typical approaches to localisation, which use a wireless signal's power or delay, work well in outdoor scenes with minimal obstacles; however, they perform poorly in obstacle-rich scenes.

Scientists developed a novel technique for determining the direction of arrival (DoA) of a radio frequency signal source, which is a fundamental enabler of localisation.

The underlying idea is that the gradient of the spatially sampled received signal strength, or RSS, carries information about the source direction.