Fleet tracking system consumes extremely little power

January 17, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA has announced that Swiss telematics equipment manufacturer AgoraBee S.A. has further developed what it claims is the world's lowest cost global fleet tracking and monitoring solution by combining short-range 2.4GHz and longer range 868/915MHz Nordic RF technology to increase the maximum length of tracked asset trains such as skips, trailers, trucks, and their cargo, from 50m (2.4GHz) up to 100m (868/915MHz).

In operation, the solution employs Nordic nRF24L01+ (2.4 GHz) and nRF905 (868/915 MHz) transceivers embedded into lightweight (25 g) matchbox-sized dual frequency RF ID tags mounted on, for example, a cargo trailer, pallet, or box. These tags continuously communicate status info (typically once every 10 seconds) to a new truck-side mounted dual-frequency control receiver that can automatically monitor the presence of all tags regardless of their transmitting carrier frequency.

The control receiver is powered by the truck battery and has a built-in GSM/GPRS module that automatically tags GPS position to inventory data before it is sent via GPRS to a remote application server on the Internet.

AgoraBee's propriety radio protocol ensures security, and allied with the use of a unique ID code for each tag and advanced networking utilizing the nRF24L01+ and nRF905's ability to rapidly wake from an ultra low power sleep mode (as low as 900 nA) within milliseconds, several hundred tags can be used in close proximity and run from a regular CR2032 coin cell power source for up to five years due to the low duty cycle of the application.

According to AgoraBee, the solution is much simpler and cheaper than existing 2.4 GHz solutions and much smaller than available GPS modem trackers. In addition, it requires dramatically less maintenance due to its long battery lifetime owed to the low power consumption of Nordic's RF technology.