Novel techniques for improved indoor positioning and localization using HF RFID

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This thesis investigates High Frequency Radio Frequency Identification (HF RFID) based positioning using a novel concept of multi-loop bridge reader antenna to localise moving objects such as autonomous wheelchairs in indoor environments. Typical HF RFIDs operate at 13.56 MHz and employ passive tags which are excited by the magnetic field radiated by the reader antenna. Positioning of moving objects using HF RFID systems derive location information by averaging the coordinates of detected passive floor tags by a portable reader antenna which are then recorded in the reader’s memory and database. To successfully detect floor tags, the reader’s antenna usually installed at the base of a moving object needs to be parallel to the floor. The magnetic field radiated by the HF RFID antenna is confined within its near field zone i.e., it is confined to a very close proximity of the antenna. This property of HF RFID helps to minimise interference to other appliances that may be present within the localisation area. Thus, HF RFID based positioning offers great potential benefit in providing location assistance in environments such as nursing homes, health care facilities, hospitals etc. However, despite the significant developments that have occurred in this field, there still exist problems with positioning accuracies obtainable mainly due to the uncertainty of the reader recognition area (RRA) of the reader antenna, which has not been fully addressed in literature. This thesis aims to address this problem by proposing the concept of multi-loop bridge reader antenna so that the reader recognition area is divided into multiple sub zones and an error signal (bridge signal) in terms of the position of the tag will be generated that helps to reduce the position uncertainty. The thesis starts with an investigation of the methods for creating multiple zones of RRA and the concept of bridge loop antenna from point of view of near magnetic fields. Different types of loop antennas for employing at the reader are electromagnetically analysed using both closed form solutions and numerical computations. The formation of reader recognition area (RRA) from different arrangements of loop reader antennas is also studied. To ensure that proposed bridge antennas can perform in realistic, non-ideal indoor environments where they are affected by proximity of metallic objects etc, we proposed methods of improvement. Equivalent circuits that reduce the computational complexity but can provide a broader understanding of the behaviour of bridge antennas have been formulated. This has lead to investigation of methods to minimise and/or eliminate the effect of metallic objects on the bridge signals. Next, we investigate the applicability of the proposed bridge loop antenna for the localisation and positioning of an autonomous wheel chair resulting in a realistic implementation of HF RFID based positioning system. The system is then tested to localise an autonomous wheelchair in an indoor environment using a grid of passive floor tags. Novel algorithms are proposed to estimate the position and orientation of the moving object using bridge signals generated by the bridge antenna coupled with the available dynamic information of the wheelchair. A comparison of our experimental results with the published results in the literature revealed significant improvements achieved by our proposed methods over existing techniques for estimating both, the orientation and position. Further, we demonstrate that the proposed technique obtains accurate position and estimation using much lesser number of floor tags (increased sparcity) than any of the currently published method, thus, contributing to simplified and easily expandable tag infrastructure deployment. We further extend the use of bridge loop antenna for situation when multiple tags are detected using the method of load modulation of the tags. When multiple tags present within the RRA of the bridge loop antenna, the resulting bridge signals incorporate information from all of the detected tags thus making it difficult to locate individual tags. To overcome this, we utilise states of the tag’s load modulation to separate these bridge signals, which then allow us to utilise them to estimate instantaneous position and orientation of the moving object. We performed analysis using equivalent circuits, as well as computational electromagnetic modelling of realistic antennas, which are then compared with experimental measurements carried on prototype systems. The comparison showed good agreement which validate our proposed method. Thus, the thesis incorporate contributions on various aspects of bridge loop reader antenna for HF RFID based positioning system. All full wave electromagnetic computations and simulations were carried by using a well known antenna design package “FEKO”. All the key analyses, equivalent circuits, antenna models and computational results for the proposed antennas and algorithms have been verified using extensive experimental campaigns to demonstrate the practical usefulness of the proposed methods. It is hoped that the findings in this thesis will result in newer efficient positioning systems in future.
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