Apple, BMW and Microsoft are leading the way, and Cognizant Mobility is also setting new trends in ultrawideband technology. Read this article to find out what a day in the woods has to do with high-precision distance measurement and why UWB also holds its own in everyday life outside of high technology.
Ca. 9 min
UWB – Precisely determine cut-to-length dimensions
The air is cool, it smells of pines, resin and pine needles. It fills the lungs with oxygen and the head with drive. Steffen adjusts the collar of his work jacket and shakes some of the fresh morning dew from the water-repellent fabric. In front of him pile up the tree trunks, which must be sawed to the appropriate length. The chainsaw lies heavy in the gloved right hand, the foot rests securely on the forest floor. There is confidence in his expression. Cutting meters to length is his job today. A task that usually has to be done in pairs – but his colleague Andi is not with him today, he has been knocked out by the vaccination. What would normally result in an exhausting day, with Stefan constantly running up and down to determine the correct dimensions for the tree trunks, is no problem today. On the contrary, Stefan is looking forward to the relaxed, quiet day in the forest. He is roughly aware that the technology at his disposal today is based on UWB, i.e. ultra-wideband distance measurement, but all he really wants to do is saw. And exactly.
At the same time, the options for cutting freshly felled trees to length are currently still surprisingly limited in the forestry industry. Of course – there are massive machines, so-called harvesters, which do the work of a whole troop, felling, cutting, debarking, in minutes. That has its price: from 300,000 euros, without extras, basic list price. Completely illusory for small businesses.
Marking aids, the simple tape measure or even a high-precision laser are more affordable methods – but require two people to work accurately and quickly, or good will to walk a mile or two. This is possible, but not efficient. Thanks to the technology built into Cognizant Mobility’s Corona distance warning system, and especially thanks to rapid prototyping, which allows the company to quickly and effectively adapt the developed technology to new conditions and requirements, Steffen can also do his work on his own.
Ultrawideband out of the Box – Precision can be this easy
The principle behind this is very simple: A UWB measuring device is attached to the chainsaw, which measures the distance to the base unit attached to a hammer, for example – continuously, with high precision. Via LED, the device now indicates whether the desired and previously set distance (in this case one meter) is undercut (LED lights up yellow), exceeded (LED lights up red), or whether the distance is exactly correct (LED lights up green). So Steffen hammers into the end of the first log, runs a meter and starts cutting when the LED turns green. If he goes another meter, the LED lights up green again, and the next cut is placed in the right place. Stefan forgets the world around him, enjoys the clear morning air and the dew on his forehead, the excited calls of the jay, which warns his fellow forest dwellers and works – precisely, effectively, and without problems. An error tolerance of +/- 2 centimeters is customary in the market and tends to belong to the precise results. After all, the working material is the world, nature provides the raw material, people create the added value – and Cognizant Mobility with its UWB team around Jens Schmidt provides the solutions.
Of course – the length can be “n”, so it can be set arbitrarily. Automotive into forestry was a step, site assessment became effective pandemic protection – and after that? The boundaries are blurred, the possibilities almost endless. Vehicles with effective personal protection that, thanks to UWB distance measurement, not only know when passers-by enter the vehicle’s radius – but also recognize when the vehicle is stationary and a warning is not required? Not a vision of the future, but a concrete project for a market leader. Steffen does not think about vehicles. He thinks of the sawhorses, with the matching markings, with which you could also saw easily and quickly – but for which you first had to get the logs onto the trestle. Impossible with whole trees. He wipes the sweat from his brow, the sun rises. However, it is not yet as high as it would be without the UWB distance measurement on its saw.
Zack – with a certain satisfaction Steffen hammers the hammer with basic equipment into the trunk and runs a meter, saws. The chain of the powerful saw eats into the fresh wood. Chips fly, the air smells rough, of nature, of life. That’s how solutions have to be, Steffen thinks to himself. Simple, practical, and tailored to people. Steffen walks another meter and sinks the saw into the trunk. Slowly he has to clear the cut lumber into the trestle, it goes faster than expected. He wonders, as he moves on to the next log, if the distance meter could also be vibrating. Or if he could use it to equip his tools so he wouldn’t have to search for them in the undergrowth. Whether the chainsaw could just start when he lifts it – but only when it is held exactly straight to avoid accidents. The drivers of the large semitrailer trucks would certainly also be pleased if, thanks to UWB, they could maneuver with millimeter precision to the trailer coupling to pick up the forest giants weighing tons and drive them to the sawmills.
Why Cognizant Mobility’s UWB Solutions are State of the Art
Cognizant Mobility, alongside other well-known and innovative tech companies, is committed to the continuous development of UWB technology and, thanks to rapid prototyping, is able to respond quickly to special requirements. Whether it’s forestry, the automotive industry, healthcare or logistics – there’s hardly an industry that can’t benefit from accurate real-time position determination. Trailer coupling, power saw and cut-to-length are just the latest examples in a whole series of innovations and solutions that the development team from Fulda has been able to realize. Well-known companies particularly value the flexibility that the UWB team at Cognizant Mobility (part of the Cognizant group of companies) brings to the table. Instead of ready-made but rigid – and often costly – solutions, Cognizant Mobility very quickly develops a prototype according to the customer’s requirements and wishes, carries out user tests, and can then immediately start implementing the first solutions.
Steffen is a realist. He knows that people usually go into the wood in pairs, where the UWB solution is not always the most practical. After all, two people do not need to determine the exact position. As soon as the number of workers increases, things look different. Various UWB measuring devices can log movement patterns, send signals to one or more devices – a three-dimensional map of the forest section is quickly created, the trees to be felled are marked via UWB measuring device, and even forestry workers from outside the area can easily find the stands to be felled, with millimeter precision.
UWB not only offers advantages in position determination. UWB serves specific bandwidths between 3.1 and 10.6 megahertz, coordination data can be read out and transferred to assistance systems that take over automated tasks. The bridge to other projects such as Robotic Process Automation is neither distant nor steep. All data is exchanged with low latency and high data rate, all information is available almost immediately. The ability to exchange and receive short data pulses at high frequency even unlocks potential for radar-like applications without a UWB counterpart. Thanks to Cognizant Mobility’s rapid prototyping, applications can also be developed quickly and easily – often it’s just a matter of making the appropriate interface modifications.
Steffen exhales audibly satisfied – the sun is meanwhile falling steeply through the trunks of the trees, which are often older than he is. A certain respect always resonates when the saw eats into the trunk exactly at the desired point. The work went easily from the hand. He didn’t have to constantly remeasure, put the saw down, get it back, start, check, saw, and then start it all over again. Every time the green LED on his chainsaw lights up, he stops and saws. Very simple. The way solutions should be.