When the control system or machine knows the positon of the operator, obstacles or targets in remote control applications, the information can often be used to enhance safety and improve productivity. Remote controlled machine with 3D positioning system can prevent both unintentional and intentional hazardous control by the operator. UWB (ultra wide band) technology is considered to be most accurate radio technology for 3D positioning today.


Developed Real Time Location System, referred as RTLS, calculates the position of the active tag node in relation to multiple stationary anchor nodes using the wireless UWB distance measurement data. The achievable inaccuracy in the future is expected to be below 10 cm in point to point measurement and about 40cm with almost 100% reliability in 3D positioning applications thanks to the used radio technology. The technology is energy efficient, immune to disturbances caused by traditional radio communications and it does not disturb them because of the extremely low energy level used.

Figure 1 illustrates the RTL-system: Tag node, main anchor node, anchor nodes (1-7 pcs), calculation unit and connection to higher level system.


Above mentioned 3D positioning technology can be used to measure relative displacements and position of machinery and operators in several applications where the GPS does not work, for example indoors. On the other hand UWB based ranging and positioning provides better accuracy compared to traditional GPS. This allows new application areas to benefit from 3D positioning. When the position of the user, obstacles and “targets” in remote control applications are known, this will often enhance the productivity and improve safety.


3D positioning system is a perfect add-on feature in remote controlled machines to restrict the machines movements towards the remote operator or limit the speeds and / or functionality if machine or operator moves to restricted area. As a point to point distance measurement, UWB technology is ideal solution for applications where movements are long and linear. Good example is positioning of the boom end with long linear booms. The ease of installation is surely a significant benefit.


Toni Lomakka, Technion Oy


Technion Oy, VTT