Novel approach to underground wireless positioning and navigation employing fingerprint locationing

Date

2011

Authors

Thompson, Travis Ray

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Abstract

Wireless underground networks for communication, navigation, and positioning are difficult to implement due to the harsh, complex signal environment. Many applications require some sort of signal propagation underground or through the earth. The challenge of system designers is to close the communications channel, meaning that the intended communications nodes can successfully transmit and receive data regardless of the additional complexity of propagating through soil and rock.

Currently, several application areas, including underground mining operations, use wired communication systems or hybrid systems that offer limited wireless capabilities to transmit information. Surface control centers need to know the location of miners at all times and especially during emergency situations. It is during these emergencies that communications are often rendered useless and the surface rescue team is left without knowledge of the underground miner's location. This position information is vital to the success of the rescue mission and the increased probability of the miner's survival.

Wireless fingerprinting is proposed as a technique to locate and potentially communicate with trapped underground miners. The proposal is based on common wireless communications design practices, utilizing access points and remote receiver units to electromagnetically characterize the underground environment. Communication between the surface antennas and the underground receiver is through the earth and models are developed to simulate signal performance in this environment and validate the proposed approach.

Results of the wireless fingerprinting system simulation indicate that locating underground receivers up to 100 meters beneath the surface is possible given certain system parameters. Key variables include frequency of operation, surface antenna gain, tunnel depth, number and location of system transmitters, and internode spacing between grid points. The wireless underground positioning and locating system using the fingerprinting technique presented in this thesis is a practical solution and offers the potential to save lives. Every minute counts in an underground mine rescue and the quicker the surface crews can locate the trapped miners, the quicker they can plan their rescue efforts.

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Keywords

Fingerprinting, Navigation, Positioning, Underground Communication, Wireless Communications

Citation

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering