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Urban Warfighters Train With RTLS

Lockheed Martin's Urban Operations Training System now includes technology from Q-Track to help pinpoint trainees' locations as they simulate urban warfare, thereby enhancing data used to evaluate their performance.
By Claire Swedberg

Because Lockheed Martin adapts each UOTS installation to the agency's specific training area and needs, future installations may or may not include the RTLS technology, and the quantity of locators and tags used will vary. However, the installation now underway consists of 31 buildings on a 500,000-square-foot site, and Q-Track is providing sufficient locators to cover the entire area—a total of approximately 220 units.

Q-Track's NFER system is already in use by nuclear plant operators to train workers (see Nuclear Plant Operator Uses RFID to Promote Safety), as well as by hockey teams to track players. It is also being used as a collision-avoidance system, to prevent robotic cranes from colliding with human workers at a specific site, such as in a factory (see RFID Helps Halt Collisions Between People and Robots). The NFER system's battery-powered tags transmit at a frequency between 1 MHz and 1.2 MHz, with a long wavelength (hence, a long near-field region) measuring about 300 meters (984 feet). With most other commercially available RTLS tags, each tag transmits an RF signal encoded with a unique ID number that identifies that tag. Q-Track's tags, however, do not transmit a unique ID. Rather, says Steve Werner, Q-Track's CEO, each NFER tag is identified based on the specific frequency at which it transmits (a system can accommodate up to 84 tags). The locators are typically installed about every 60 feet, and each unit evaluates the near-field properties of a tag's signals and then applies an RF "fingerprinting algorithm" to locate that tag to within a specific accuracy of a meter or less.

For the installation now underway at an urban operations training site consisting of 31 buildings, Q-Track is providing a total of about 220 locators.
That location data is then included in the UOTS system, enabling it to display icons representing each fighter, as well as the room or other location in which that individual is located, in real time. For historical data, the technology also allows users to determine where an individual has been, how long they were there, the direction in which they traveled, and where they may have fired a weapon or been fired upon. The RTLS data can also be employed by the UOTS system to confirm individuals' locations, and thereby trigger cameras to begin recording (as redundancy or replacement for motion or optical sensors).

"The real takeaway is flexibility," says Eric Richards, Q-Track's chief scientist and Lockheed Martin contract project manager. With dozens of buildings being monitored, a user sees where an individual fighter is or has been, who has been within his or her vicinity, when this occurred, and how he or she responded to that. It can also enable users to determine who may be in a specific room or building, or outdoors, or when a trainee came into contact with a bystander or enemy combatant.

Locators, which measure approximately 8.5 inches by 10.5 inches by 7.3 inches in size, are typically mounted high on walls. They can have a wired power source if a customer does not intend to move them, or they can take batteries. Calibrating the locators, Richards says, "is simple, fast and robust against small-scale changes in environment, such as furniture, doors and minor electrical changes." He estimates that readers can be calibrated, once installed, at a rate of 5,000 square feet for every man-hour of labor.

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