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Logistics: RFID tags soon ready to add accurate location to automated stock inventories?

Thanks to a miniaturized, superdirective antenna associated with dedicated algorithms, CEA-Leti is able to read commercial RFID tags with record positioning accuracy in the reading range. This innovation opens the way for automated accurate inventory as well as the counting of goods or people and the surveillance of livestock.

Published on 15 December 2022

​With almost decimetric RFID tag position accuracy over distances of up to 10 m, this innovative and cost effective solution achieves a major step ahead of the current RFID technologies used in commerce.

An innovative reader for existing RFID tags

While the Institut Carnot France Futur Elevage will test this technology in 2023 for the surveillance of livestock, it is the industrial logistics sector that stands to gain the most from this innovative system as it will enable the implementation of automated inventory of precisely geolocated assets. And the reader could also be adapted to count people or goods. It is important to underline that this innovation relies on current RFID tags; the innovation is wholly built around a new tag smart reading system.

An antenna almost two time smaller than its wavelength

In terms of hardware, researchers at CEA-Leti developed the smallest existing superdirective ESPAR antenna (Electronically Steerable Parasitic Array Radiator). Protected by three patents, this new antenna measures 18 cm, almost half its wavelength (34.5cm). Competing solutions measure in the 80 to 100 cm range!

The antenna can detect tag signals over 360°. Two algorithms enable the system to locate a tag: the first measures the power of the tag signal and correlates this with the antenna radiation pattern. The second uses multi-frequency measurements the return signal phase to calculate the distance with almost decimeter-level precision.

These advances were achieved within the GateOne Esuper2 (H2020), Lotar (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region) and Salto (Inter-Carnot) projects. The next step will be to launch a bilateral automated inventory project with a major industrial actor in the field of transportation and logistics. 

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