What is it?
The VBOX Indoor Positioning System (VIPS) by RACELOGIC is a highly accurate way of measuring speed, position and attitude (pitch/roll/yaw) in areas where GPS is not available.
How does it work?
A number of fixed UWB beacons are placed around the indoor test area (minimum 6), in known positions which have been manually surveyed using a handheld laser or Total Station (if time is of the essence, a self-survey can also be performed). The beacons are completely stand-alone, and can be battery powered, making the deployment very rapid.
A UWB receiver on the vehicle continuously communicates with the beacons and triangulates its position indoors. This data is combined with the measurements from a highly accurate inertial measurement system, providing a real-time 3D position and attitude measurement at 100 Hz, to within 2 cm. All measurements are made on the target vehicle in real-time.
What is remarkable, is that VIPS can achieve re-acquisition and full accuracy in less than 0.2 of a second, which is considerably faster than GPS!
What is the intended application?
The system is designed for high dynamic vehicle test and validation procedures which are normally performed outside using GPS. Examples include acceleration, braking, handling, crash testing, tyre testing and ADAS sensor validation.
The system can also be used to fill in gaps in GPS coverage in areas such as heavy tree cover, tunnels and urban canyons.
Image above: Indoor testing of tyres on ice
How do we get such high accuracy?
Over the 5 years it has taken to develop VIPS (VBOX Indoor Positioning System), we have built our own custom hardware, software and calibration routines which has resulted in an industry leading accuracy of less than 2 cm. We temperature calibrate the beacons to ensure accuracy in all conditions, and we have developed our own antennas which are specifically designed to work on a vehicle. The custom antenna design significantly enhances the repeatability of the measurements. To take into account the high dynamic environment of vehicle testing, we have developed our own UWB algorithms, and this has allowed us to take individual measurements at up to 1000 Hz, reducing noise and dynamic errors in the measurements.
The video above (no audio) demonstrates the industry leading accuracy that we have been able to achieve with VIPS, as we verify the distance between the vehicle and a static point using both VIPS and a tape measure.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use the system to bridge gaps in satellite coverage outside?
Yes, the VBOX Indoor Positioning System can also be used outside as an alternative to GNSS, in areas with limited or no satellite signal. Note that you would require a minimum of 6 beacons to cover any area, and the beacons require a power connection. What makes VIPS superior to GPS, is that it can acquire lock and achieve full accuracy in less than 0.2 s, so there is virtually no delay waiting for the system to lock onto the beacons.
It is also compatible with steering robots, offering highly accurate path following and repeatability. We used the self-survey method to set up the system for this video, which took 2 people just 30 minutes to install, with no accurate measuring tools necessary.
Can I continue to test as I drive inside and outside?
Yes, the VBOX will switch between using GPS outdoors and VIPS indoors without any interruption in measurement.
Can it use GPS when available?
Yes, the system can incorporate a GPS RTK engine and will seamlessly swap to the most accurate system available at the time.
How many cars can use the system?
At the moment, up to two vehicles can be used at the same time. We will shortly be expanding this capability to 5 vehicles using the same hardware.
How accurate are the measurements?
If the beacons surveyed using a Total Station, the positional accuracy is < 2 cm. If the self-survey mode is used (seeding the system with rough positions to within 5 m), the positional accuracy is 5-10 cm. The speed is accurate to within ±0.1 km/h, the pitch/roll ±0.1° and yaw ±0.5°.
Can I use my own VBOX and software?
Yes, if you own a VBOX 3i which is less than 3 years old.
How long does it take to setup?
Once familiar with the system, a simple 6 beacon system using tripods can be setup by two people in less than 90 minutes.
What size area can the system cover?
The maximum distance between beacons is 25-50 m, and up to 250 beacons can be used on one site.
How many beacons would I need?
You will require a beacon placed roughly every 50 m in your test site. The vehicle needs to see a minimum of 4 beacons at all times, but 6 or more beacons gives the best accuracy.
Can the system be installed permanently?
Yes, we can advise you on how to fit a system to your own building/test track/tunnel.
Is the position and speed calculated on the vehicle?
Yes, the receiver includes a powerful processor which provides real-time information to the VBOX.
How much does it cost?
The cost will depend on the number of beacons you required to sufficiently cover your indoor test location. Please describe your test requirements and facility as detailed as possible when asking for a quote and we will come back to you with a specific solution.