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Accurate Underground Wireless Ranging and Tracking


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Author M Hedley and I Gipps


Tracking plant and personnel in underground environments provides multiple
potential benefits for a mine including increasing safety, better monitoring of
production, traffic control, and in the future monitoring and control of
autonomous vehicles. The main techniques for wireless tracking are to use radio
frequency identification (RFID), signal strength based techniques, and time of
arrival (TOA) based techniques. RFID does not provide continuous tracking and
signal strength techniques have poor accuracy in the complex radio propagation
environment present in mines. TOA based techniques are potentially the most
accurate, but most current equipment does not realise the potential of the
technique. CSIRO has been developing the wireless ad-hoc system for positioning
(WASP) system for wireless tracking in a range of challenging environments
including underground mines. WASP has been licensed for sporting applications
and has delivered encouraging results in early trials for a surface and an
underground mining application. The system utilises a number of ‘anchor nodes’
that are placed at surveyed fixed locations within the mine, and tags attached
to plant or personnel to be tracked. The system provides an ad hoc data
communication network, thus wired data connections are not required to the
anchor nodes. WASP uses transmissions in the 5.8 GHz ISM (instrumentation,
scientific and medical) frequency spectrum to perform highly accurate ranging
between nodes, hence tracking of tags. The localisation performance of the
system depends upon the radio propagation environment, ranging from 0.1 m in low
multipath conditions. In this paper we describe the WASP system and provide
results of initial testing in an underground mine that shows that the system
achieves high ranging accuracy, hence localisation accuracy.

Hedley, M and
Gipps, I, 2011. Accurate
underground wireless ranging and tracking, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Underground Operators’

pp 293-298 (The Australasian Institute of
Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).