5G network uses its high bandwidth, low latency, high reliability, and wide connection features to provide basic network support for vertical industry applications, promote intelligent upgrade in various industries, and move towards the internet of everything (IoE). With more and more man-to-man, man-to-thing, and thing-to-thing interactions, the demand for location information has become increasingly prominent. Traditional GPS positioning signals cannot cover the indoor areas where most vertical industry applications occur, so indoor positioning technologies are needed to make up for indoor coverage.
The available indoor positioning technologies include Bluetooth, ultra wide band (UWB), simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) and RFID, but have not yet formed a unified positioning solution. There are many challenges in the deployment and maintenance of indoor location services. First, the deployment and maintenance costs are relatively high. The indoor structure of a large building is complex, and the cost of deploying a positioning network alone is high. Moreover, in indoor scenarios, changes may occur, such as floor decoration, equipment repair, and store replacement, which affect the accuracy of location services and increase maintenance costs. Second, indoor deployment is difficult and there are high requirements for security. Indoor deployment involves many management departments, which are difficult to coordinate and need to meet the owner management and physical security requirements. Because the location information is related to enterprise production, it is necessary to ensure its security. Third, positioning technologies are independent of each other and have their own advantages and disadvantages. They fail to play a synergistic role in improving efficiency. Finally, positioning standards related to network construction, performance test, vector drawing, and environmental feature library have not yet been uniformly recognized by the industry. These factors restrict the development of indoor positioning applications.
The hybrid 5G indoor positioning solution integrates Bluetooth, UWB and SLAM with the 5G network to provide location services that meet different positioning precision needs in different scenarios. This greatly reduces the deployment and maintenance costs and gives full play to various technical advantages, which can coordinate with each other to provide flexible positioning capabilities. The solution architecture includes the terminal layer, network layer, platform layer, and service layer (Fig. 1). The requirements of terminal power consumption, volume and universality are considered at the terminal layer. At present, mobile phones are configured with basic positioning chips such as cellular networks and Bluetooth by default, and UWB is also developing towards standard configuration on terminals, so the integration of terminal communication and positioning has a certain foundation. At the network layer, pan-wireless positioning technologies overlaid on the 5G infrastructure integrate 5G and the location network in physical deployment, while the location computation service deployed on the enterprise edge cloud integrates the positioning services. Map and location services are provided at the platform and the services are shared and opened, which speeds up the convergence of location algorithms, reduces overheads, and provides basic services for applications. The service layer is oriented to industry location applications. The location services and map services provided by the platform layer can meet diverse needs of industry applications.
The hybrid 5G indoor positioning solution leverages the 5G network and multiple positioning technologies to meet the needs of various scenarios. In actual application, the appropriate hybrid positioning technology can be selected according to the local condition and the environmental factors and service needs of the enterprise.
—5G NR positioning solution: 5G NR meets both the positioning and communication requirements, supports multiple positioning algorithms such as UTDOA and ECID, and provides the meter-level positioning capability. With the evolution and development of 3GPP protocols, the accuracy of 5G NR positioning will be further improved.
—5G+Bluetooth AOA/UWB hybrid high-precision positioning solution: Both the positioning and communication base stations are deployed simultaneously. The location computation service is deployed on the edge cloud node for unified maintenance and deployment, providing the centimeter-level high-precision positioning capability.
—5G+Bluetooth label hybrid positioning solution: The Bluetooth label is embedded in the 5G NR to provide monitoring and management capability for Bluetooth devices and reduce later maintenance costs. The positioning precision depends on the density of labels deployed, which can generally reach 3 to 5 meters.
—5G+SLAM hybrid positioning solution: SLAM provides the centimeter-level high-precision positioning capability. Combined with the edge MEC, the 5G network provides wireless network guarantee and edge computing power for the SLAM positioning. The 5G network also provides coarse-granularity auxiliary positioning for SLAM, which reduces the probability of location loss and makes the intelligent robot based on the SLAM positioning run more stably in the indoor environment.
Location-based service applications have been in the initial development. For example, the automobile assembly industry and the power and energy industry use positioning to meet their production needs; airports and shopping mall applications use positioning to meet customer navigation, entertainment and intelligent management needs. With the development of intelligent interconnection of things, the collaboration between people and people, people and things, things and things is getting closer, and location-based service will serve as a basic capability to support more application innovations.
ZTE has cooperated with industry-leading partners in positioning technologies, maps, and applications to explore the positioning needs in different industries and promote the implementation of location-based services. In the vehicle manufacturing field, a positioning system can be deployed in the factory assembly workshop to provide full traceability of each vehicle in the workshop as well as high transparency and visualization of the operation process. While standardizing the operation process, the positioning system can significantly improve the operation efficiency, realize real-time positioning of assembly vehicles and automatic data push, and relieve the pressure on production capacity. After the introduction of a 5G network, the hybrid positioning solution can not only meet the positioning needs, but also provide a 5G network with large bandwidth, low latency, and wide connections, creating a more promising application prospect.
With the development of AI and wireless technologies, the whole society has entered the era of internet of everything (IoE). Based on the 5G network, the indoor positioning solution combined with leading technologies such as edge computing and big data will enable the digital and intelligent development of various industries, give rise to emerging indoor services, and empower thousands of industries.