6G Localization and Sensing – Technologies, Opportunities and Challenges

In mobile communications we use Positioning for many different services like navigation and Location Based Services. Localization is the process of making something local in character or restricting it to a particular place. With 6G, the expectation is that it will achieve a localization precision of 1 cm on 3D compared to 5G’s 10 cm on 2D

This will come handy for many different reasons. V2X applications that would require extreme precision for many different use cases. In addition, think of new services like Extended Reality (XR), Holographic communications, Industrial Iot applications, Ultra-precision manufacturing, etc. While for outdoors, advanced algorithms based on GNSS and A-GNSS can improve localization significantly, for indoors these techniques don't work very well.

What if the localization can be combined with sensors so it can deliver high precision indoor localization. This can enable many new verticals from robots to drones and for all kinds of applications. While we are talking only about user-plane applications, control-plane signalling can also use localization. In any given area there will be some static devices including the likes of IoT or M2M devices and some that are dynamic, like vehicles and people. If the localization is done properly than the radio resources including any spectrum, codes, resource blocks, etc., can be optimised for achieving highest cell throughput, maximum capacity and lowest possible latency.

Back in June, 6G Flagship wrote quite a few whitepapers on 6G. One of them was on Localization and Sensing. It is available here.

6G Flagship also held a webinar (the ninth in the 6G Research Visions Webinar Series) which took place on Wednesday 18 November 2020. In this webinar the representatives of the expert group explored future localization and sensing opportunities for beyond-5G wireless communication systems by identifying key technology enablers and discussing their underlying challenges, implementation issues, and identifying potential solutions. In addition, they presented exciting new opportunities for localization and sensing applications, which will disrupt traditional design principles and revolutionize the way we live, interact with our environment, and do business.

The webinar was moderated by Dr. Carlos H. M. de Lima from University of Oulu and contained talks by following Expert Group representatives: 

  • Dr. Barend Van Liempd, IMEC, Belgium: 6G Technology challenges & system-level Opportunities through THz spectrum adoption (presentation link)
  • Dr. Hadi Sarieddeen, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia, Intelligent surface-assisted communications, localization, and sensing (presentation link)
  • Assist. Prof. Yang Miao, University of Twente, Netherlands: Beamspace for localization and sensing (presentation link)
  • Assist. Prof. Jaakko Suutala, University of Oulu, Finland: Role of machine learning in localization and sensing (presentation link)
  • Prof. Henk Wymeersch and Prof. Tommy Svensson, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden: Sensing and communication convergence (presentation link)
  • Dr. André Noll Barreto, Barkhausen Institut, Germany: Active Radar Sensing Using Joint Communications and RF Sensing (presentation link)

The video of the webinar is embedded below.

We will look at this topic in detail in further posts in future.