Probabilistic UHF RFID tag pose estimation with multiple antennas and a multipath RF propagation

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Deyle, Travis
Kemp, Charles C.
Reynolds, Matt S.
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We present a novel particle filter implementation for estimating the pose of tags in the environment with respect to an RFID-equipped robot. This particle filter combines signals from a specially designed RFID antenna system with odometry and an RFID signal propagation model. Our model includes antenna characteristics, direct-path RF propagation, and multipath RF propagation. We first describe a novel 6-antenna RFID sensor system that provides the robot with a 360-degree view of the tags in its environment. We then present the results of real-world evaluation where RFID-inferred tag position is compared with ground truth data from a laser range-finder. In our experiments the system is shown to estimate the pose of UHF RFID tags in a real-world environment without requiring a priori training or map-building. The system exhibits 6.1 deg mean bearing error and 0.69 m mean range error over robot to tag distances of over 4 m in an environment with significant multipath. The RFID system provides the ability to uniquely identify specific tagged locations and objects, and to discriminate among multiple tagged objects in the field at the same time, which are important capabilities that a laser range-finder does not provide. We expect that this new type of multiple-antenna RFID system, including particle filters that incorporate RF signal propagation models, will prove to be a valuable sensor for mobile robots operating in semi-structured environments where RFID tags are present.
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