CSEM introduces GPS-free positioning for the Internet of Things

Alain-Serge Porret, VP Integrated and Wireless Systems at CSEM

CSEM, a Swiss research and technology organisation, has proposed the first commercial solution based on Semtech’s LoRa technology for GPS-free geolocation of connected devices. This technological breakthrough allows the geographical tracking of LoRaWAN end-nodes without any material impact on the bill of materials or battery life, and will help enhance the industrial development of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The use of LoRa, the ultra-low power wide-area RF technology for IoT applications, is growing rapidly worldwide, and the LoRa Alliance today counts over 330 members. Semtech, developer of LoRa, recently announced the addition of geolocation functionality, which is compatible with all LoRaWAN end-nodes and second generation gateways.

According to Machina Research, more than half of IoT applications will need geolocation, in particular applications such as smart cities, asset tracking and agriculture. However up until now only GPS was available, which is often incompatible with the low-cost, long battery life needs of LoRaWAN nodes. To meet this challenge CSEM worked with Semtech on a LoRaWAN network deployment in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. CSEM, a member of LoRa Alliance, applied a state-of-the-art statistical algorithm to Semtech’s time-difference-of-arrival (TDOA) approach to calculate the position of LoRaWAN nodes. This statistical approach, while more robust than other types of solvers, also integrates motion models to allow the tracking of moving objects. The pilot deployment used for development and testing of the solver was composed of 10 gateways located in and around the city of Neuchâtel. As a result, CSEM today has announced its own LoRa-based solver allowing tracking of any LoRaWAN node using existing second generation hardware.

"Low-power geolocation is key to the expansion of IoT networks," explains Alain-Serge Porret, VP Integrated and Wireless Systems at CSEM. "With this solution, CSEM was able to apply its large expertise in geolocation and low-power wireless networks". The geolocation solver is available under license from CSEM, and can be adapted and optimised for specific client requirements and applications. The availability of low-power geolocation offers exciting new perspectives for the continued massive growth of the IOT.

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