(Sept. 26, 2018) -- Scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have developed a novel algorithm that enables localization of humans and robots in areas where GPS is unavailable.

According to ARL researchers Gunjan Verma and Dr. Fikadu Dagefu, the Army needs to be able to localize agents operating in physically complex, unknown and infrastructure-poor environments.

"This capability is critical to help find dismounted Soldiers and for humans and robotic agents to team together effectively," Verma said.

"In most civilian applications, solutions such as GPS work well for this task, and help us, for example, navigate to a destination via our car."

Dagefu said that obstacles inside the building, especially when their size is much larger than the wavelength of the wireless signal, weaken the power of the signal (attenuation) and re-direct its flow (called multipath), making a wireless signal very unreliable for communicating information about location.

According to the researchers, typical approaches to localization, which use a wireless signal's power or delay (i.e., how long it takes to reach a target from a source), work well in outdoor scenes with minimal obstacles; however, they perform poorly in obstacle-rich scenes.

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