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Journal of Navigation


A version of this paper was first presented at the Royal Institute of Navigation NAV 08 Conference held at Church House, Westminster, London in October 2008. There exist various applications for indoor positioning, amongst which indoor positioning and tracking in urban environments has gained significant attention. Some user communities, like fire fighters, ideally require indoor accuracy of less than one metre, with accuracies of less than six metres acceptable by some other user communities. Achieving this level of accuracy requires a detailed profiling of error sources so that they can be better understood so that, in turn, indoor positioning accuracy in the presence of these errors can be further improved. Some well known error sources like multipath, NLOS (non line of sight), oscillator drift, dilution of precision and others have been studied and can be found in the literature. A less well known error source that can substantially affect indoor positioning accuracy are the effects of the dielectric properties of building materials on propagation delay. Various RF and non-RF based prototypes that claim to be suitable for indoor positioning can be found in the literature. Most of the existing literature discusses algorithms and summarizes the positioning results that were achieved during field tests using a prototype system or, more commonly, simulations. Little of this existing literature provides a breakdown of the total navigation system errors observed with the objective of analyzing the contribution of each error source independently. the paper will first provide a brief overview of the precision personnel locator system developed at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. the field tests and observed indoor positioning results using this RF prototype will then be summarized and used to provide a baseline to establish a system error budget. the total observed error will be broken down and a detailed analysis of each of the error sources will be presented based on actual measured data in a variety of indoor environments. This leads to a better understanding of how each error source affects indoor positioning accuracy. Each of the error sources can then be independently optimized to minimize the observed errors. Specifically, the interplay between the dielectric properties and multipath profiles will be highlighted. This paper will conclude by presenting an error budget which can be used as a practical lower bound when designing precise indoor positioning systems.





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© 2009, Cambridge University Press. Available on pubilsher's site at