Synchronized MAC layer for ultra-wideband wireless sensor network : Design, implementation, analysis, and evaluation

University essay from KTH/Kommunikationssystem, CoS


The necessity of interconnecting objects more and more, possibly with high mobility, has pushed the telecommunications industry to recently develop new wireless standards in order to guarantee tracking of devices and to provide integration with well-known worldwide networks such as the Internet. Within these standards the role played by power consumption is implicit, hence power consumption needs to be as low as possible in order to fulfill long-life requirements and to offer the opportunity of locating and moving smart objects in the coverage area while relying only on batteries as the device's power source.  Considering the importance of identifying and tracking these smart objects with high accuracy and high precision, this document propose an implementation of an IEEE 802.15.4a MAC layer, exploiting ultra-wideband wireless technology, with a time synchronization algorithm included for precise Time Difference of Arrival indoor positioning.

Nevertheless, this thesis demonstrates the advantages of using UWB for indoor wireless communication, due to its accuracy in localization and its robustness against interference.

A demonstration network has been analyzed consisting of four main base stations optimistically displaced at the corners of a room gathering timestamps from a central tag moving within the space where the UWB signal is within range. These timestamps are collected in one of the base station which plays the role of the coordinator and sends this information to a server which computes the position of the tag using TDOA formulation.

The main focus of this work is the synchronization algorithms used to synchronize the four base stations and secondly to synchronize the coordinator with the tag. Particular interest is placed on the protocol, the kind of messages exchanged, and the procedure used to maintain a good level of synchronization and to avoid unwanted clock drifts.

Moreover the thesis gives some hints of potential future improvements and proposes a possible solution for large-scale scenarios involving the installation of additional base stations for higher coverage and integration of a larger number of tags, with a focus on synchronization, collision avoidance, and routing procedures to better Fit the situation of a larger network and more tags.  As a result, all the assumptions and the methodologies applied give evidence of how difficult it is to meet contemporary requirements for position accuracy, low power consumption, limited memory, and small message exchange when utilizing low-power and lossy networks and to address problems which need to be further studied in the future. The results of this thesis project offer a good proof of the possibility to reach high accuracy in terms of localization when exploiting UWB radio technology and redundant time synchronization algorithms with the help of TDOA measurements.

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