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  • Original Paper
  • Open Access

Vehicle navigation system using UHF RF-ID

Vehicle navigation in an aspect of lane support system
European Transport Research ReviewAn Open Access Journal20135:92

  • Received: 28 March 2012
  • Accepted: 29 January 2013
  • Published:



In northern countries, we sometimes encounter heavy snow fall and it causes low visible condition. In this circumstance, we have difficulty to keep the driving lane. For the purpose of safety driving, we develop the vehicle navigation system with Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Radio Frequency Identification (RF-ID) to keep the driving lane.


We obtain a vehicle location on the driving lane using UHF RF-ID system. The vehicle position in driving lane is written on RF-ID tags in advance and these tags are buried in an asphalt road. Our experimental vehicle equips RF-ID antenna which communicates with RF-ID tags and gets vehicle location on the driving lane. This position information is given to a driver by Liquid Cristal Display. We make Graphical User Interface which shows vehicle location and direction to the center of the driving lane. And our system gives voice instruction, which says the above direction. In order to simulate low visible condition, we put a bubble wrap onthe wind shield in front of driver’s seat. This bubble wrap makes driver difficult to see the outside.


In our driving experiment with a daily driver and a novice driver, they can keep on the driving lane using our navigation system against the bubble wrap on the windshield.


The navigation system with RF-ID is useful underthe low visible condition. And low visible condition is occurred in not only in the heavy snow fall, also thick fog and so on.


  • Vehicle navigation
  • Graphical user interface
  • Voice instruction

1 Introduction

In the present paper, we investigate vehicle navigation using a Radio Frequency Identification (RF-ID) system. In the northern countries, we occasionally experiences heavy snow, which reduces visibility and causes traffic accidents. In order to prevent such accidents, we are developing a new navigation system that can indicate the vehicle location on the road.

Many vehicles are equipped with navigation systems that use the global positioning system (GPS). However, the accuracy of GPS is reduced for various reasons, and it cannot be used for precise vehicle navigation. Recently, a high-accuracy GPS system, named real-time kinematics GPS (RTK-GPS), was developed. Although RTK-GPS can generally indicate the precise location of a vehicle, under certain conditions, for example, when reflected waves and waves arriving directly from GPS satellites are mixed, RTK-GPS sometimes provides incorrect location information. The system proposed in the present paper comprises a local communication system, which uses a communication method differentfrom that of GPS.

In the field of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), there are researches related to vehicle position detection and most of them use GPS to get position data on driving lane [1]. Recently, Alam et al. presented a new approach for lane-level positioning using the carrier frequency offset of DSRC signal, broadcast by two infrastructure beacons [2]. It isapplied to lane detection and there remains an estimation error in estimated vehicle position depended on vehicle speed.For the reason of the estimation error, it is difficult to apply precise vehicle navigation, especially in lowspeed.

To our knowledge, there has been little experimental research on RF-ID systems. Reitaas et al. placed RF-ID tags on a straight road to ensure that a vehicle remained within its own lane [3]. Lee et al. studied the basic conditions of UHF RF-ID system on a straight road and have fruitful results in which RF-ID tags on road surface [4]. In each of these studies, RF-ID tags were placed on both sides of the driving lane and were used to provide out-of-lane warnings. RF-ID systems are also being developed for use in vehicle identification with Certified Weight in Motion (WIM) and video license plate recognition techniques [5]. Research has also been carried out on the use of passive RF-ID tag systems for indoor navigation of mobile robots [6]. Such robots move rather slowly compared to automobiles, and the distance between antennas and tags can therefore be much shorter.

During the winter, driving lanes are sometimes covered in heavy snow and the road and its surroundings become uniformly white. Headlights, fog lamps, and windshield wipers are not helpful and drivers struggle to identify the drivinglane. A system that provides information on the location of the driving lane and helps the driver to remain in the center ofthe lane would be very useful under such conditions.

The prototype navigation system was designed to present driving information by means of an RF-ID system through a display on the dashboard. In our previous work [7, 8], we use electromagnetic induction RF-ID (High Frequency 13.56 MHz). Using HF RF-ID system, we are also able to navigate the vehicle and keeping on a driving lane. By reason of HFRF-ID tags are placed on an experimental road surface, HF RF-ID tags were broken by heavy vehicles and snowplows. In order to improve the survival time of RF-ID tags, we attempt to set the RF-ID tags under a road surface and change the RF-ID system to Ultra High Frequency (UHF, 950 MHz). Lines of UHF RF-ID tagsare set up under an experimental road surface on our campus. Since there has been no research on the communication range between an RF-ID antenna and buried RF-ID tags on an asphalt road, we first investigated the communication range of the RF-ID system on a dry asphalt road and an asphalt road covered with ice and snow during winter. We constructed a prototype vehicle navigation system with a small Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) which indicates the position of the vehicle within the lane. In addition, the system is capable of issuing vocal instructions for remaining in the center of the lane. This is useful when driving on a straight road, even for novice drivers. These vocal instructions are issued by a computer which also displays the location of the vehicle on the road through a graphical user interface (GUI) using the Windows XP operating system.

2 Navigation system overview

3 Navigation system with UHF RF-ID

4 Driving experiment on the road

We constructed an experimental road in our campus. We make driving experiment in Winter and test road is covered with ice and snow. During the experiment, we put a 0.6 m × 0.7 m bubble wrap on the windshield in front of driver’s seat to make the low visible condition caused by blizzard (Figs. 14 and 15).
Fig. 14
Fig. 14

Driver’s view without a bubble wrap

Fig. 15
Fig. 15

Driver’s view with a bubble wrap on the windshield

The test run is conducted when there are no pedestrians or other vehicles on the road. Because, avoiding an accident is most important issue in our experiment. Our experimental vehicle has no equipment for collision detection or pre-crash safety system, so we should keep off such accidents by ourselves. The driver looks only at the GUI on the LCD without looking outside, and receives voice instruction. Comparing with visible conditions, we make driving tests in the cases puton the bubble wrap on the windshield and without the bubble wrap. And in our experiment, there are two type of drivers,one is a daily driver, who drives almost every day, and another is a novice driver, who drives little or nothing, but has adriving license.

At first, we make a driving experiment without the bubble wrap. In this case, we can navigate an experimental vehicle by our navigate system. During driving experiments, we force the driver just look a LCD on the dashboard, in which our navigate GUI is shown, and never see the driving lane. Our navigation system is workable and we can keep the driving lane.

But, in this experimental condition, drivers can give a glance on the driving lane. After putting on the bubble wrap in front of driver’s seat on the windshield, drivers cannot see the driving lane surface and are able to see a vague outline of oncoming vehicle and foot passengers. In order to assure the safety of driving experiment, we put the bubble wrap in front of driver’s seat and an assistant in front passenger seat checks the driving conditions and only gives a stop instruction to the driver in a dangerous situation.

The low visible condition by the bubble wrap gives a psychological impact to the drivers. They cannot drive with bubble wrap on windshield without any navigation and guide. Drivers have learned our navigation system with RF-IDsystem, they know how vehicle position and direction to the center of driving lane are indicated by our system. Reliability of navigation system is important point under the low visible condition. Both a daily driver and a novice driver decrease the driving speed (Table 1). A novice driver is more affected by low visible condition, he decreases an average speed to 52 % and the maximum speed to 42.5 % from the driving experiment without the bubble wrap. And also a daily driver decreases an average speed to 73.5 % and the maximum speed to 65.5 % from the condition without the bubble wrap, respectively.
Table 1

Comparing the driving speed with/without a bubble wrap (BW) on the windshield


Average speed [km/h]

Maximum speed [km/h]

Daily driver

  Without a BW



  with a BW



Novice driver

  Without a BW



  With a BW



In all driving experiments with the bubble wrap, we can keep the driving lane. Figure 16 shows our experimental vehicle on the driving lane with the bubble warp on the windshield.
Fig. 16
Fig. 16

Experimental vehicle on the driving lane with the bubble wrap

In the following, we show the representative driving records.

In the case of a daily driver, navigated vehicle starts from 3001 RF-ID tag and reads 55 RF-ID tags in Fig. 17. In this case, an average speed is 11 km/h and the maximum speed is 15.54  km/h. On the other hand, a novice driver starts from 3001 RF-ID tag and reads 59 RF-ID tags. His average speed is 8.65 km/h and the maximum speed is 12.01 km/h. Both a daily driver and a novice driver can keep the driving lane and read in the midst of RF-ID tags. The movie taken in this driving experiment is given as Electronic Supplementary Material.
Fig. 17
Fig. 17

Driving record of a daily driver (left) and a novice driver (right). Start from the bottom line to the top

Next example is the case where experimental vehicle starts from right hand or left hand of RF-ID tags’ row. In this driving experiment, a daily driver starts from right hand of driving lane on purpose (Fig. 18). In this case, he can keep the driving lane and gradually drives to the center of driving lane. His average speed is 14.88 km/h and the maximum speed is 22.61 km/h. A novice driver starts from left hand of the driving lane and he also keeps the driving lane by our navigation system. A novice driver drives the vehicle 9.18 km/h (average velocity) and the maximum velocity is 12.72 km/h. If drivers do not have sense of safety for our navigation system, they cannot drive vehicle over 10 km/h with bubble wrap on windshield.
Fig. 18
Fig. 18

Driving record of a daily driver (left) and a novice driver (right). Start from left hand or right hand of thebottom line to the top

5 Concluding remarks

In the present paper, we have presented a vehicle navigation system that uses UHF RF-ID system to keep the drivinglane. Our navigation system gives vehicle position on the driving lane by GUI on LCD and the direction to the center ofdriving lane by GUI on LCD and the voice instruction. In our residential area, heavy snow fall makes low visibility condition and we cannot drive around the legal speed. In our driving experiment, such low visible condition is simulated by the bubble wrap on the windshield in front of the driver’s seat. However, drivers feel the same difficulty of the heavy snow fall with wrapped windshield, our navigation system helps them to keep the driving lane safely. From several starting points on the driving lane, both a daily driver and a novice driver have done well with our navigation system using RF-ID system. In this paper, the low visible condition is assumed tobe caused by the heavy snow fall, but same condition may be occurred in the dense fog and so on. Our navigation system with RF-ID system still has problems to put into practical use. Most important issue iscost in spreading RF-ID tags broadly on general road. From this point, we need to reduce the number of RF-ID tags. We might go on to more optimize the arrangement of RF-ID tags and work on multi-antenna system.



The authors would like to thank students in our laboratory, who assisted in coding and conducting the experiments. The present study was supported by JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research 18651082, 21510174, 23560433, and 24510221.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

Authors’ Affiliations

Kitami Institute of Technology, 165 Koen-cho, Kitami Hokkaido, 090-8507, Japan


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