Ultra-Low Power Device Positioning Concepts

Ultra-Low Power Device Positioning Concepts


There are an increasing number of IoT applications, and projections show that global Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) connections will increase by almost one order of magnitude in the next five years. Terrestrial networks are continuously targeting evolutions of the IoT markets. For example, the latest release of 3GPP standards has introduced modifications to their standard (e.g. NB-IoT) to comply with the ultra-low energy requirements of 10+years of battery life for Massive Internet of things communication. At the same time (while NB-IoT is still to be deployed), 3GPP is starting to define a new air interface (called enhanced Machine Type of Communications e-MTC) to be scalable to the evolution of IoT requirements. In addition, LPWA networks with proprietary technologies (such as Sigfox, Lora) are providing dedicated solutions for very long battery lifetime IoT devices (up to 20 years). There is therefore a growing market targeting the concept of “install and forget an IoT device”, which calls for ultra-low energy and low-cost devices.

However there are difficulties with the inclusion of positioning capabilities within an IoT device in terms of complying with the ultra-low-energy requirements (10+/15+ years of battery life) especially for space-based PNT capabilities. 

The main objective of the proposed activity is to:

  • design, assess feasibility, develop and demonstrate new concepts and paradigms of PNT for ultra-low energy (and low-cost) devices for hybrid terrestrial/satellite networks and space-based PNT systems.

The activity will investigate opportunities offered by both present and future standards/technologies of terrestrial networks in hybridisation with current/future GNSS and/or satellite-based communication and PNT services. It is expected to leverage on concepts like access network, use of protocols, apportionment of processing between user and network, apportionment of data transfer and energy consumption between communication and positioning functions, duty cycles, air interface, etc., both from system perspectives and at user level. 

The tasks to be performed will include:

  • Review of requirements and use cases, with review of assumptions and requirements for IoT devices based on several combinations of hybridisation among (present and future) LPWA terrestrial networks, satellite communication systems and space-based PNT systems (either GNSS or complementary/alternative satellite based systems);
  • Identification of the apportionment of requirements (e.g. power budget, data transfer) between PNT and communication; 
  • Preliminary design, with identification of promising concepts, mode of operations, receiver architectures and techniques to enable ultra-low energy IoT devices using tracking by satellite-PNT services in standalone and in hybrid mode with terrestrial LPWA networks and satellite networks. Mapping of solutions to identified use cases. Definition of simulator for analysis;
  • Consolidated design and analysis, with consolidation of design, implementation of simulator and analysis of performance of most promising concepts, mode of operations, receiver architecture and techniques; 
  • Cost-benefit analysis.

The results of the activity will provide:

  • Feasibility of the identified concepts with identification of impacts on the space-based PNT systems, terrestrial and satellite networks and IoT devices;
  • Guidance for planning future activities, including further studies, testing and proof-of-concept activities possibly integrated with follow-on tests from other activities;
  • Recommendations on how identified gaps and issues can be addressed in future activities; 
  • Recommendations to system designers and users regarding requirements and solutions.