A simple and cheap real time location system implemented in a GoKart club in the outer Copenhagen.
Posted on January 27, 2019
Whenever we think IoT systems, the most common thoughts is smart homes, automated traffic, smart cities, remote asset control, smart watches, smart glasses or other expensive visionary projects. IoT is on track to be leaving a huge imprint in the world, however the visions of IoT needs to be broader than it is now, if we really want a truly connected world. This article explores a small and cheap IoT project implemented in a GoKart club in the outer Copenhagen. It will hopefully clarify how small IoT projects creates a lot of value, and how the investment in small IoT applications is worth more thought then it is given today.
The idea is simple; in order to improve each customers race performance, each driver needs a to improve the their race line (the position of the car on the track). A good gokart instructor might be able to see and remember the race line of a driver, just by watching the drivers drive. However when multiple drivers is on the track, the instructor needs unnatural abilities to remember each drivers race line on each lap. Luckily, the process of finding and storing race lines can be automated with a simple IoT implementation.
The race line can be interpreted as a big set of location points combined with an ID of the gokart. Achieving location data of objects can be achieved in many ways, but since this project has precision requirements, many technogies can be ruled out (ex. GPS has an accuracy of ca. 15 meter and even additional problems with indoor coverage). The most accurate indoor location technology in litterature today is the UWB transmission with an accuracy of ca. 30 cm, and a range up to 150 meters. The technology has been proven to work in many industries as a good solution to achieve a precise Real-Time Location System. In short, high accuracy, long range and and proven to work makes the choose of UWB transmission a great choice for this project.
Now lets look at the infrastructure of the location system. The system will consist of anchors, tags and gateways as illustrated in the images below:
The location points of the gokart will be measured according to the distances (strength of UWB signal) to each anchor (mininum 3 and maximum 4), that can resul in a simple triangulation calculation (way of determining something's location using the locations of other things). The tag (gokart) will then send the location information to a Rasberry PI referenced as the Gateway, which simple job is to but the information on the internet (in this project a Microsoft Azure Cloud Service).
This project is aimed to show the true value of small and cheap IoT applications, thereby keeping as much of the product production self-made. However, producing the antennas for UWB transmission can be an unnecessary challenge compared to the prices available on the market. This project uses the third-party hardware provider Decawave to provide the necessary hardware of both the tags, anchors and gateways. The hardware cases, however, is simply produced on a 3D-printer and the gokart tags are self-mounted directly on the gokart motherboard. The result is a simple plug and play installation. Below is provided images of the installation in Power Racing Gokart Academy:
An IoT project does not have to be complex or expensive. IoT can improve many aspects of daily life, With simple antenna tools, a good idea and the right software knowlegde. This project were completed with a team of two persons, and provided valueable data for the GoKart club Power Racing. A small IoT project does not change the world, but vision in investing in them might do. Imagine if IoT could go beyond the complex and expensive solutions, and truly connect every aspect of the physical world with the virtual.