Posted on Leave a comment

LoRaWAN GPS Trackers

Brief

Our feature customer is Phase Zero Consulting, a safety consulting company who is performing the risk management of a river kayak race. The major requirement is to know the location of every boat on the water, in order to ensure that no boats are being left behind in the race, have gone off-course, or to locate a boat in need of assistance.

Challenges

  • Safety-critical, system must be reliable with faults easy to diagnose
  • Running in remote areas, likely no Internet access
  • Long distance coverage required on a limited number of access points
  • Terrain may block radio line of sight, and vegetation will attenuate higher radio frequencies
  • Re-use of existing tracking system parts if possible

Solution

The main wireless technology used between the GPS trackers and the base stations is LoRaWAN, which is ideally suited for these conditions. In Australia, LoRaWAN uses the unlicensed 915MHz spectrum band, which copes much better with difficult terrain and vegetation than WiFi in the unlicensed 2.4GHz spectrum band. It is also designed to have low power consumption, which matches well to battery powered devices where weight is a consideration.

The assumption with many LoRaWAN implementations is that Internet access is available, and that LoRaWAN gateways can talk to Application Servers on the Internet. In this case, that assumption is not true, so a full LoRaWAN stack needs to run independently of any Internet connectivity. Thankfully, LoRaServer fills this requirement perfectly and allows a LoRaWAN gateway and application server to be built on a low-power embedded computer such as a Raspberry Pi.

The existing tracking system uses some of the same technologies for the same reasons. Software development is currently underway to write custom code for the existing GPS trackers, and to port the same code to other platforms such as the RAKWireless WisKey range. Testing is scheduled to start in early July.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.