RFID-style fleet tracking solution ‘10x cheaper’ than current GPS alternatives

AgoraBee has developed what it claims is the world’s lowest cost global fleet tracking solution using Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz transceivers. Agorabee says the RFID-style tags can run for up to five years from a coin cell at a solution cost that AgoraBee claims is 10x lower than traditional GPS-based alternatives.

Picture: Agorabee/Nordic Semiconductor

The ChisFleet solution employs Nordic nRF24L01+-based RF ID tags mounted on, for example, a cargo trailer, pallets, or boxes, that continuously communicate ‘I’m here’ status info (typically once every 10 seconds) with a truck-side mounted control receiver to monitor the presence of all tags. 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 that is then sent via GPRS to a remote application server on the Internet.
An AgoraBee-developed propriety radio protocol ensures security, and allied with the use of a unique ID code for each tag and advanced networking using the nRF24L01+’s ability to rapidly wake from – and drop back into – an ultra low power sleep mode (as low as 900nA) within milliseconds, several hundred tags can be used in close proximity and run from a coin cell (‘watch battery’) power source for up to five years due to the low duty cycle of the application.
“Although theft is a big problem, the biggest problem many haulage and indeed vehicle rental, maintenance, and security firms [which the AgoraBee solution is also ideally suited to] face is locating lost assets whose location was not recorded or recorded manually but incorrectly,” comments AgoraBee R&D Director, Dr. Louis Harik, who together with AgoraBee Managing Director, Dr. Jari-Pascal Curty, led the team that developed the Chisfleet solution.
“A common example in haulage is not knowing where trailers are left once they have been detached from a delivery truck which can be extremely costly – not to mention stressful – to find. Until now the only way to avoid such problems was to employ GPS modem trackers which are bulky, heavy, difficult and expensive to replace if damaged, and can only run off a battery for several hours at a time so also need frequent – read: ‘expensive’ – manual maintenance and monitoring as well. Passive RFID chips although less costly – are also not ideal as they require manually-operated (so again prone to human-error and expensive) readers. Our solution is fully-automated, employs matchbox-sized (5.1 x 4.7 x 1.0cm) RF tags that weigh 25g, is 10x less expensive, and can run for five years from a regular CR2032 coin cell.”
“Asset tracking and RFID-type applications would not conventionally be considered an obvious domain for Nordic 2.4GHz ultra low power solutions,” comments Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “Yet as AgoraBee’s Chisfleet solution demonstrates, the cost, performance, and extended coin-cell battery-life of 2.4GHz wireless technology is enabling it to challenge and significantly improve upon conventional approaches in a wide range of industrial [as well as home] automation applications.”
AgoraBee is currently seeking distribution channel partners for its solution worldwide and interested companies should email: jari.curty@agorabee.com.

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