The growing number of applications in autonomous robots and vehicles has increased the demand for positioning, locating and tracking systems. Until now, following and tracking an object with high accuracy has mostly been done by using machine vision systems that use expensive cameras and bulky processing units. These types of systems are vulnerable to disturbances and require a continuous direct line-of-sight to perform as intended.
The main challenge of this project is to autonomously track and follow an object without the need of cameras or other machine vision system components. It should be possible to fit the system into a small mobile robot so only embedded electronic components are to be used.
The objective is achieved by using a flipped UWB positioning topology where a set of anchors calculates its position in relation to the target, in contrast to regular indoor positioning systems where a target finds its absolute position in relation to a set of fixed references. UWB allows us to measure the distance from each of the anchors to the target with a high degree of accuracy. Using multilateration it is then possible to locate a target in any direction from the reference anchors.
The flipped anchor topology allows a robot to track and follow anything with an UWB tag on it. It can be used for tracking and following humans in indoor or outdoor environments. For example, the system can be placed in a suitcase so that it can follow a person through an airport, or it can be placed in a supermarket cart so it follows a person while they buy groceries. The target can also be a robot or a series of robots, which could be used to build autonomous convoys or caravans. The tracker can act as a portable high-accuracy tracking system that allows for positioning multiple tags in a nearby area without the need of installing anchors or references across the room.