The INtelligent Airport (TINA)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

Diverse applications are expected to appear in the future with complex and often varying service requirements, traffic profiles and user expectations. These will require extremely advanced adaptive computing and communication systems to provide users with mobile, secure and automatic means of conducting business. A prime application area is in international travel which continues to grow supported by a significant investment in infrastructure, such as Heathrow Terminal 5.An intelligent, adaptive, self-organising wired/wireless infrastructure is essential in this environment. It is anticipated that the considerable growth in the complexity of this infrastructure will not just be due to the proliferation of established fixed equipment such as wireless base stations, surveillance cameras, security detection equipment, display and terminal equipment. The requirements will also be for a much wider deployment of more compact portable equipment, for example, location and control equipment on a wide range of transportation equipment. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags supported by a transparent optical-RF network can be used to sense, locate and track an array of objects including luggage, mobile assets and commercial goods and can provide additional features such as boarding pass auto-tags and access control tags. These active RFID tags will operate at low data rates, typically 64 kbit/s, but an airport environment can be expected to contain a few million of them. Mobile biometric sensors will be widely deployed in this environment providing advanced features. A range of fixed and mobile terminals will provide additional security measures such as chemical detection and analysis, while other terminals, fixed and mobile, will support passenger information and entertainment services on transit. The infrastructure will support an array of personal passenger and staff wireless media rich devices. The wired/wireless network envisaged will thus be huge and complex, supporting perhaps 10 million information sources, with an anticipated peak aggregate data rate of order 100 Gbit/s in a relatively local access environment. This is beyond the capability of any current network and research is needed to understand the principles upon which an effective system could be constructed.As this is such an ambitious and multidisciplinary project, a collaborative programme is proposed. The project has strong industrial involvement and support from Laing O'Rourke who will provide the application context, share design experience, user requirements and architectural constraints and Marconi who will contribute expertise in complex communication system design. At the outline proposal stage, we received feedback from EPSRC that they would welcome additional collaborations with those involved in airport operations. We are delighted that, in response, BAA and Boeing have agreed to become involved in the project, and within UCL links have been made to Dr Paul Brennan, who will contribute substantial knowledge of RfID, being involved in a major European project in the area. Finally we have additionally sought to involve the equipment company Motorola and the installation planning company Red-M to ensure that we can receive expert advice across all areas within the project.

Publications

10 25 50

 
Description Within the TINA project, Cambridge University has demonstrated the feasibility of using low cost UHF RFID technology in a new way to provide (i) enhanced tag read range (to 10m), (ii) increased (100%) tag reading probability and (iii) the ability to locate the passive tag to approximately 1m resolution. This has been achieved by combining a customised RFID reader with a distributed antenna system. The ability to use the distributed antennas in a collaborative manner acts to remove the effect of radio propagation fades and also has allowed the development of algorithms, which have been implemented on RFID firmware, to take the RF information from the individual antennas and use this to generate the location information.

The ability of optical DAS to carry simultaneously both sensing and communications services was also demonstrated for the first time enabling a truly unified infrastructure.

These combined technologies were brought together at the final showcase even to demonstrate their potential application to tracking passengers within an airport via boarding cards enabled with RFID tags.
Exploitation Route Lost baggage and late passengers are global problems for the airline industry with multi-billion pound per year costs. Technology developed could go some way to reducing the occurrence and impact of both.

More widely the technology can be applied to a range of other sectors to improve efficiency. Other applications include:
Lost documents cause wasted time and money in a variety of office environments, particularly legal offices. Avoiding such events will reduce waste and increase efficiency
Asset management is vital part of may businesses and the use of wide area RFID will enable RFID to be applied to many more aspects of asset management than current portal systems allow.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail

URL http://intelligentairport.org.uk/
 
Description Research into wide area distributed antenna systems for RFID have been taken forward into the the follow-on-fund project PULSE which has lead to the formation of a spinout company to commercialise the work. Work has also lead to ongoing research in the area of highly accurate passive RFID both in other applications and within airports.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Passive UHF Location SEnsing (PULSE)
Amount £125,210 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I028439/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2011 
End 03/2013
 
Description Arup Group Ltd 
Organisation Arup Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description BAA Airports Ltd 
Organisation Heathrow Airport Holdings
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Boeing Phantom Works 
Organisation Boeing
Department Phantom Works
Country United States 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Laing O'Rourke plc 
Organisation Laing O'Rourke
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Motorola 
Organisation Motorola Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description RED-M 
Organisation RED-M
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Tyco Electronics 
Organisation Tyco Electronics
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Zinwave Ltd 
Organisation Zinwave Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Title RFID TAG INTERROGATION SYSTEMS 
Description We describe an RFID tag reading system for reading one or more RFID Tags, the system comprising an RF transmitter and an RF receiver, a plurality of transmit/receive antennas coupled to said RF transmitter and to said RF receiver, to provide spatial transmit/receive signal diversity, and a tag signal decoder coupled to at least said RF receiver, wherein said system is configured to combine received RF signals from said antennas to provide a combined received RF signal, wherein said RF receiver has said combined received RF signal as an input; wherein said antennas are spaced apart from one another sufficiently for one said antenna not to be within the near field of another said antenna, wherein said system is configured to perform a tag inventory cycle comprising a plurality of tag read rounds to read said tags, a said tag read round comprising transmission of one or more RF tag interrogation signals simultaneously from said plurality of antennas and receiving a signal from one or more of said tags, a said tag read round having a set of time slots during which a said tag is able to transmit tag data including a tag ID for reception by said antenna, and wherein said system is configured to perform, during a said tag inventory cycle, one or both of: a change in a frequency of said tag interrogation signals transmitted simultaneously from said plurality of antennas, and a change in a relative phase of a said RF tag interrogation signals transmitted from one of said antennas with respect to another of said antennas. 
IP Reference WO2011135329 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2011
Licensed Yes
Impact Formation of a spin out company to exploit the IP
 
Title Rfid tag location systems 
Description We describe a methods of locating an RFID tag. One method comprises: transmitting tag location signals from a plurality of different transmit antennas, wherein said antennas are spaced apart by more than a near field limit distance at a frequency of a said signal; receiving a corresponding plurality of receiving return signals from said tag; and processing said tag return signals to determine a range to said tag; wherein said transmitting comprises transmitting at a plurality of different frequencies; wherein said processing comprises determining a phase difference at said plurality of different frequencies to determine said range, and wherein said determining of said phase difference determines a phase difference between either i) two or more of said transmit signals resulting in a maxima in the returned signal RSSI or ii) a first transmit signal and its corresponding return signal; and wherein said determining of said range to said tag uses said return signals weighted responsive to a respective received signal strength of the return signal. Further data which may be used for averaging may be generated by using the above techniques along with changes in the polarisation state of the transmit and receive antennas and/or physical reconfiguration of the antennas (e.g. switch the transmit and receive elements). 
IP Reference WO2011135328 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2013
Licensed Yes
Impact Formation of spin-out company to commercialise technology Technology transfer activity to Boeing
 
Company Name PervasID 
Description Created a University spin-out, PervasID to exploit the technology. The PervasID technology is based on a ground-breaking battery-less UHF RFID system that enables customers to monitor their items, both cheaply and effectively, in real-time. The RFID DAS system consists of a centralised RFID DAS controller/reader unit, feeding a number of antennas over co-ax cables. The antennas, which are distributed over the interrogation area are used in a collaborative manner for enhanced tag detection and location, compared with conventional systems. The time required to inventorise a large population of tags is also reduced. The RFID DAS unit is equipped with an Ethernet interface allowing tag information to be uploaded to a centralised server for processing, analysis and display. 
Year Established 2011 
Impact The encouraging results of this grant and the successful collaboration with potential end users in trials have prompted the inventors of the technology to form a spin-out company, PervasID Ltd. The company is wholly owned by the inventors.
Website http://www.pervasid.com