GPS-less low-cost outdoor localization for very small devices

Abstract

— Instrumenting the physical world through large networks of wireless sensor nodes, particularly for applications like marine biology, requires that these nodes be very small, light, un-tethered and unobtrusive, imposing substantial restrictions on the amount of additional hardware that can be placed at each node. Practical considerations such as the small size, form factor, cost and power constraints of nodes preclude the use of GPS(Global Positioning System) for all nodes in these networks. The problem of localization, i.e., determining where a given node is physically located in a network is a challenging one, and yet extremely crucial for many applications of very large device networks. It needs to be solved in the absence of GPS on all the nodes in outdoor environments. In this paper, we propose a simple connectivity-metric based method for localization in outdoor environments that makes use of the inherent radio-frequency(RF) communications capabilities of these devices. A fixed number of reference points in the network transmit periodic beacon signals. Nodes use a simple connectivity metric to infer proximity to a given subset of these reference points and then localize themselves to the centroid of the latter. The accuracy of localization is then dependent on the separation distance between two adjacent reference points and the transmission range of these reference points. Initial experimental results show that the accuracy for 90% of our data points is within one-third of the separation distance.

DOI: 10.1109/98.878533

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