We propose a novel concurrent ranging technique for distance estimation with ultra-wideband (UWB) radios. Conventional schemes assume that the necessary packet exchanges occur in isolation, to avoid collisions. Concurrent ranging relies on the overlapping of replies from nearby responders to the same ranging request issued by an initiator node. As UWB transmissions rely on short pulses, the individual times of arrival can be discriminated by examining the channel impulse response (CIR) of the initiator transceiver. By ranging against N responders with a single, concurrent exchange, our technique drastically abates network overhead, enabling higher ranging frequency with lower latency and energy consumption w.r.t. conventional schemes.
Concurrent ranging can be implemented with a strawman approach requiring minimal changes to standard schemes. Nevertheless, we empirically show that this limits the attainable accuracy, reliability, and therefore applicability. We identify the main challenges in realizing concurrent ranging without dedicated hardware and tackle them by contributing several techniques, used in synergy in our prototype based on the popular DW1000 transceiver. Our evaluation, with static targets and a mobile robot, confirms that concurrent ranging reliably achieves decimeter-level distance and position accuracy, comparable to conventional schemes but at a fraction of the network and energy cost.