WO2006022548A1 - Ultra wide band system for animal location - Google Patents

Ultra wide band system for animal location Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2006022548A1
WO2006022548A1 PCT/NL2005/000621 NL2005000621W WO2006022548A1 WO 2006022548 A1 WO2006022548 A1 WO 2006022548A1 NL 2005000621 W NL2005000621 W NL 2005000621W WO 2006022548 A1 WO2006022548 A1 WO 2006022548A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
label
characterized
system according
animal
system
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/NL2005/000621
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Derk Jan Roosenboom
Albertino Bernardo Maria Verstege
Pieter Lieuwe Roosenschoon
Original Assignee
Nedap Agri B.V.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to NL1026919 priority Critical
Priority to NL1026919A priority patent/NL1026919C2/en
Application filed by Nedap Agri B.V. filed Critical Nedap Agri B.V.
Publication of WO2006022548A1 publication Critical patent/WO2006022548A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S5/00Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more direction or position line determinations; Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more distance determinations
    • G01S5/02Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more direction or position line determinations; Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more distance determinations using radio waves
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S5/00Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more direction or position line determinations; Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more distance determinations
    • G01S5/02Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more direction or position line determinations; Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more distance determinations using radio waves
    • G01S5/04Position of source determined by a plurality of spaced direction-finders
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S5/00Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more direction or position line determinations; Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more distance determinations
    • G01S5/02Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more direction or position line determinations; Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more distance determinations using radio waves
    • G01S5/06Position of source determined by co-ordinating a plurality of position lines defined by path-difference measurements
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S5/00Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more direction or position line determinations; Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more distance determinations
    • G01S5/02Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more direction or position line determinations; Position-fixing by co-ordinating two or more distance determinations using radio waves
    • G01S5/14Determining absolute distances from a plurality of spaced points of known location

Abstract

A system for locating at least one animal in a predetermined area, provided with at least one label which is designed to be attached to or in the at least one animal, which label is provided with a transmitter for transmitting an ultra wide band signal, at least one receiver which is placed in or adjacent the area and which is designed to receive the ultra wide band signal of the transmitter of the at least one label, and a signal processing device which is connected to or integrated with the at least one receiver for locating the at least one label on the basis of the ultra wide band signal received by the at least one receiver on the basis of, for instance, delay time and/or reception angle.

Description

P68129PC00

Title: Ultra wide band system for animal location.

The invention relates to a system for locating at least one animal in a predetermined area.

Such systems are known per se. The known systems utilize, for instance, at least one video camera for locating the at least one animal in the predetermined area, on the basis of, for instance, a marker or light source which is provided on the animal, or on the basis of the image of the animal itself. These systems have the drawback that if, in the area, there is an obstacle between the animal and the camera, it is not possible to locate the animal. Other known systems utilize, for instance, a transmitter provided on the at least one animal, which transmitter transmits a frequency modulated (FM) radio signal which is detected by at least one receiver. These systems have the drawback that the animal can only be located with limited accuracy so that analyzing the behavior of the at least one animal becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible.

One object of the invention is to provide a system for locating the at least one animal in a predetermined area, which system meets the above- mentioned drawbacks. To this end, the invention provides for a system which is characterized in that the system is provided with at least one label designed to be provided on or in the at least one animal, which label is provided with a transmitter for transmitting an ultra wide band signal, at least one receiver which is placed in or adjacent the area and is designed to receive the ultra wide band signal of the transmitter of the at least one label, and a signal processing device connected to or integrated with the at least one receiver for locating the at least one label on the basis of the ultra wide band signal received by the at least one receiver, on the basis of, for instance, the delay time and/or reception angle. As a result, obstacles can be allowed in the area as the ultra wide band signal passes around and through the obstacles. Furthermore, the at least one animal can be located accurately. A location accurate to approximately thirty centimetres is for instance already achieved when the delay time of a signal is determined accurate to within one nano second. Preferably, the system is designed to locate the at least one label in two (spatial) dimensions. As a result, a simple system is obtained providing sufficient information for many uses with respect to the position of an animal.

When the position of the at least one label is determined in two (spatial) dimensions, it is preferred that the system is provided with at least two receivers for locating the at least one label. This can be done on the basis of, for instance, a first measured delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the first receiver and a second measured delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the second receiver. This can also be done on the basis of, for instance, a first measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the first receiver, and a second measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the second receiver. Here, the two receivers are preferably disposed at different positions. As a result, for instance the receivers can be designed to determine the delay time in which the ultra wide band signal travels from the transmitter of the at least one label to the receiver, or the receivers can be designed to determine the reception angle at which the ultra wide band signal is received. As a result, a relatively simple system is obtained.

When the position of the at least one label is determined in two (spatial) dimensions, it is preferred that the system is provided with at least three receivers for locating the at least one label. This can be done on the basis of, for instance, a first measured difference in delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the first and the second receiver and a second measured difference in delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the second and the third receiver, while the at least three receivers are disposed at different positions. As a result, the receivers can be designed to determine, for instance, the difference in delay time in which the ultra wide band signal travels from the transmitter of the at least one label to the receivers. As a result of this too, a relatively simple system is obtained.

Preferably, the system is designed to locate the at least one label in three (spatial) dimensions to, for instance, determine whether the at least one animal is standing or lying.

Preferably, the ultra wide band signal of the transmitter of the at least one label comprises data regarding the identity of the at least one animal the label is attached to. As a result, it is possible to locate the at least one animal in a simple manner, for instance if several animals provided with a label are present in the area.

An example of a system for locating the at least one animal in a predetermined area according to the invention will presently be further elucidated with reference to the drawing. In the drawing:

Fig. Ia shows a schematic representation of a first embodiment of a system for locating an animal according to the invention, based on the reception angle; Fig. Ib shows a schematic representation of a second embodiment of a system for locating an animal according to the invention, based on the delay time;

Fig. Ic shows a schematic representation of a third embodiment of a system for locating an animal according to the invention, based on delay times differences;

Fig. 2 shows a schematic representation of a first embodiment of a label of the system according to the invention;

Fig. 3 shows a second embodiment of a label of the system according to the invention; Fig. 4 shows a schematic representation of a third embodiment of a label of the system according to the invention;

Fig. 5a shows a schematic representation of a fourth embodiment of the system for locating an animal according to the invention, based on delay time;

Fig. 5b shows a schematic representation of a fifth embodiment of the system for locating an animal according to the invention, based on the reception angle;

Fig. 5c shows a schematic representation of a sixth embodiment of the system for locating an animal according to the invention, based on delay time differences;

Fig. 6a shows a pulse train of an ultra wide band signal in the time domain;

Fig. 6b shows a pulse train of the ultra wide band signal in the frequency domain;

Fig. 7a shows a series of pulse trains of a first label in the time domain;

Fig. 7b shows a series of pulse trains of a second label in the time domain; Fig. 8 shows a schematic representation of a pulse-coded pulse train; and

Fig. 9 shows a special embodiment of a time-modulated pulse.

Fig. Ia shows a system for determining the two-dimensional position of an animal of a plurality of animals 2.i (i = 1, 2,.., n) in a predetermined area 4. The system will be explained with reference to the determination of the position of the animal 2.2. To this end, a label 6.i is provided on each animal 2.i. In the system outlined in Fig. Ia, each label 6.i is provided with a transmitter 8 (see Fig. 2) for transmitting an ultra wide band signal.

The system in Fig. Ia is further provided with a first and a second receiver 12.1, 12.2 which have been placed in the area 4. The receivers 12.1, 12.2 are designed to receive the ultra wide band signal of the transmitters 8 of labels 6.i. The receivers 12.1, 12.2 are connected to a signal processing device 14. The signal processing device 14 is designed to locate the labels 6.1 on the basis of the ultra wide band signals of the transmitters 8 of the labels 6.1 received by the receivers 12.1, 12.2. The signal processing device can also be included in at least one of the receivers.

The signal processing device 14 can for instance locate the animal 2.2 on the basis of an angle Oc1 at which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the receiver 12.1, and an angle 0C2 at which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the detector 12.2. To this end, for instance, phased array receivers can be used. The position of the label 6.2 can be determined by the signal processing device 14 as an intersection of a first virtual line Li, making angle Oc1 with the first receiver 12.1 and a second virtual line L2, which makes angle 0C2 with the second receiver 12.2 Naturally, here, the distance between the two receivers 12.1, 12.2 must be known and the angle at which the first receiver 12.1 is situated with respect to the second receiver 12.2 and the angle at which the second receiver 12.2 is situated with respect to the first receiver 12.1.

Fig. Ib shows that as an alternative (or an addition), the signal processing device 14 can for instance also locate the animal 2.2 on the basis of a delay time ti in which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the receiver 12.1 and a delay time t2 in which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the detector 12.2. To this end, the ultra wide band signal of the labels 6.i can comprise time information, for instance the time of transmission. To generate time information, the at least one label can for instance comprise a clock. The position of the label 6.2 can be determined by the signal processing device 14 as an intersection of a first virtual circle C1 with the receiver 12.1 as center and a radius which corresponds to the distance the ultra wide band signal travels in delay time ti, and a second virtual circle C2 with the receiver 12.2 as center and a radius which corresponds to the distance the ultra wide band signal travels in delay time t2.

Fig. Ic shows that as second alternative (or addition) the signal processing unit 14 can for instance also locate the animal 2.2 on the basis of at least two measured differences in delay time. To this end, the system is for instance designed to determine a difference in delay time At1 of the ultra wide band signal from the transmitter 8 of the label 6.2 to the receivers 12.1 and 12.2 and difference in delay time Δt2 of the ultra wide band signal from the transmitter 8 of the label 6.2 to the receivers 12.2 and 12.3. Determining the delay time differences Δti, Δt2 can be done by transmitting an ultra wide band signal in the form of a single pulse or a pulse train, which signal is then received by the, in this example three, receivers 12.1, 12.2, 12.3. This embodiment offers the advantage that the transmitter 8 of the label needs not transmit time information. The signal processing device 14 determines the delay time differences Δti, Δt2 from differences in the moments the receivers 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 receive the pulse or pulse train. The position of the label 6.2 can be determined by the signal processing unit 14 as an intersection of a first virtual hyperbole H1, which corresponds to a delay time difference Δti between the receivers 12.1 and 12.2, and a second virtual hyperbole H2, which corresponds to a delay time difference Δt2 between the receivers 12.2 and 12.3. Transmission of the pulse or pulse train can be repeated to repeatedly locate the label 6.2. Here, it preferably holds that the interval between two pulses or pulse trains is chosen such that the maximum difference in delay time Δti, Δt2 that can be measured if the label 6.2 is within the predetermined area 4 is smaller than the minimum interval between two successive pulses or, if pulse trains are transmitted, between two successive pulse trains. For instance, in an area where the maximum distance from the transmitter 8 to the receivers 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 is 30 meters, the maximum delay time difference to be detected is 100 nano seconds. The minimum interval between two successive pulses or pulse trains should then be more than 100 nano seconds. As a result, the system cannot make the mistake that a delay time difference is determined on the basis of two pulses or pulse trains which have not been transmitted simultaneously, which would result in an incorrect location.

To determine the position of each animal of a plurality of animals 2.i, the labels 6.i are designed to generate ultra wide band signals distinguishable from each other. As a result, the signal processing device 14 can distinguish the respective positions of the labels 6.i. Preferably, the ultra wide band signal of the labels 6.i comprises data regarding the identity of the animal 2.i to which the label 6.i is attached, and which is being located. The system 1 can also be arranged such that the signal processing device 14 is designed to determine the position of the labels 6.i in three spatial dimensions, to determine whether the animals 2.i are, for instance, standing or lying, or possibly, mounting each other. Figs. 5a, 5b and 5c show possible embodiments of a system 1 for locating an animal 2.i in three spatial dimensions. The system shown in Fig. 5a can for instance be arranged for determining the delay time of the signal from transmitter 8 of the label 6.2 to the receivers 12.1, 12.2, 12.3. To this end, again, the ultra wide band signal of the label 6.2 can contain time information, for instance the time of transmission. To this end, the signal processing device 14 is designed to locate the animal 2.2 on the basis of a delay time ti in which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the receiver 12.1, a delay time t2 in which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the detector 12.2 and a delay time t3 in which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the detector 12.3. The position of the label 6.2 can be determined by the signal processing device 14 as an intersection of a first virtual sphere S1, of which, for the sake of clarity, only one spherical segment is represented in Fig. 5a, with the receiver 12.1 as center and a radius which corresponds to the distance the ultra wide band signal travels in delay time ti, a second virtual sphere S2 of which only one arc is represented in Fig. 5a, with the receiver 12.2 as center and a radius which corresponds to the distance the ultra wide band signal travels in delay time t2, and a third virtual sphere S3 of which only one arc is represented in Fig. 5a, with the receiver 12.3 as center and a radius which corresponds to the distance the ultra wide band signal travels in delay time t3.

As shown in Fig. 5b, it is also possible to design the receivers 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 to determine at which angle the signal of the label 6.2 is received by the receivers. Each receiver 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 can for instance be designed as a linear phased array. In this case, the receiver 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 can determine one angle between a reference direction of the receiver and a (virtual) line from the receiver to the label. The position of the animal 2.2 can be determined on the basis of an angle αi, at which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the receiver 12.1, an angle oc2 at which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the detector 12.2 and an angle 0C3 at which the signal of the label 6.2 reaches the detector 12.3. The position of the label 6.2 can be determined by the signal processing device 14 as an intersection of a first virtual plane P1 making an angle αi with the first receiver 12.1, a second virtual plane P2 making an angle 0:2 with the second receiver 12.2 and a third virtual plane P3 making an angle 0:3 with the third receiver 12.3. Naturally, here, the distance between the three receivers 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 must be known and the angles at which the first receiver 12.1 is situated with respect to the second and third receiver 12.2, 12.3, the angles at which the second receiver 12.2 is situated with respect to the first and third receiver 12.1, 12.3, and the angles at which the third receiver 12.3 is situated with respect to the first and second receiver 12.1, 12.2. Each receiver 12.1, 12.2 can also be designed to determine two angles. To this end, the receiver 12.1, 12.2 can be arranged as a matrix phased array. In this case, the receiver 12.1, 12.2 can determine a first angle between a first reference direction of the receiver and a (virtual) line from the receiver to the label and a second angle between a second reference direction of the receiver and the (virtual) line from the receiver to the label, with the first and second reference directions of the receiver mutually differing. In this embodiment, the three-dimensional position of the label 6.2 can be determined with the aid of at least two receivers 12.1, 12.2.

It is also possible to determine the position of the animal 2.2 in three spatial dimensions on the basis of at least three measured delay time differences. To this end, the system shown in Fig. 5c is designed to, for instance, determine a difference in delay time At1 of the ultra wide band signal from the transmitter 8 of the label 6.2 to the receivers 12.1 and 12.2, a difference in delay time Δt2 of the ultra wide band signal from the transmitter 8 of the label 6.2 to the receivers 12.2 and 12.3 and a difference in delay time Δt3 of the ultra wide band signal from the transmitter 8 of the label 6.2 to the receivers 12.2 and 12.4. Determining the delay time differences Δti, Δt2, Δt3 can be carried out by transmitting an ultra wide band signal in the form of one single pulse or a pulse train, which signal is then received by the, in this example four, receivers 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, 12.4. The position of the label 6.2 can be determined by the signal processing device 14 as an intersection of a first virtual hyperboloid Hd1, of which, for the sake of clarity, only one segment is represented in Fig. 5c, which corresponds to an delay time difference At1 between the receivers 12.1 and 12.2, a second virtual hyperboloid Hd2, of which only one line is represented in Fig. 5c, which corresponds to a delay time difference Δt2 between the receivers 12.2 and 12.3 and a third virtual hyperboloid Hd3, of which only one line is represented in Fig. 5c, which corresponds to an delay time difference Δt3 between the receivers 12.2 and 12.4.

The system outlined in Figs. Ia, Ib and Ic is further provided with a farm computer 22 connected to the signal processing unit 14. The farm computer 22 is arranged to record, for instance, the position and/or pattern of movement and mounting behavior of the animals 2.i or for counting animals on, for instance, an animal assembly location. These data can be used by the user of the system to detect rut, heat or disease in the animals 2.i. The farm computer 22 can also be arranged to record bedding behavior of the animals 2.i. The system can be arranged to locate, on the basis of data in the farm computer 22 or in the signal processing device 14, one animal of the plurality of animals 2.i, which animal needs extra attention due to, for instance, too long an intermilking period, too great a feed supply, disease or an ailment. It is therefore also possible that an identity of the animal needing extra attention is determined in advance on the basis of data in the farm computer 22, or data which are entered into to the farm computer 22. For instance, on the basis of a medical indication, it can be determined in advance which animal needs extra attention, for instance in case of disease and/or ailment. The system can be provided with an apparatus 23, for instance a gate to be operated by the farm computer 22 for separating the animal in need of extra attention from the plurality of animals. This offers the advantage that at least one animal of the plurality of animals, for instance the animal needing extra attention, can be separated from the plurality of animals. As a result, it is possible to influence the position and/or actions of an animal of the plurality of animals such that the animal can enter certain locations and/or can be guided to specific locations and/or the animal may or may not carry out certain actions. A sick animal can for instance be separated from the plurality of animals, for instance in a space where the sick animal can be treated. Preferably, the farm computer 22 is designed to operate the apparatus 23 for separating the at least one animal. This offers the advantage that the position and/or the actions of the animal of the plurality of animals can be influenced by means of the farm computer. In an advanced embodiment, the label 6.i can be designed such that the ultra wide band signal of the label 6.i comprises biometric data, such as blood pressure and/or heart rate, of the animal 2.i the label is attached to. To this end, the label can be connected to or provided with recorders for obtaining the biometric data. The system 1 outlined in Figs. Ia, Ib, Ic is further provided with a feeding device 24. The system is designed to determine the presence of an animal 2.i near the feeding device 24 on the basis of the position of the animal 2.i determined by the system. The farm computer 22 is connected to the feeding device 24. The farm computer 22 is designed to determine whether the animal 2.i, whose presence is detected near the feeding device 24, is to obtain access to the feeding device 24. It will be clear that the farm computer 22 can operate the device 23 for separating the animal from a plurality of animals accordingly. Here, the apparatus 23 for separating the animal from the plurality of animals, which animal, in this example, may obtain access to the feeding device 24, can, in this example, comprise a gate and/or feed dispensing valve of the feeding device 24 to be operated by the farm computer 22. This offers the advantage that the position and/or actions of the animal of the plurality of animals and processes at a farm, for instance the foraging, can be influenced by means of the farm computer 22.

The farm computer 22 can also determine how much and/or which type of feed is to be given to the animal 2.i. The farm computer 22 can be designed to record the foraging behavior of the animal 2.i in order to, for instance, monitor the feed intake and/or detect diseases. The system outlined in Figs. Ia, Ib, Ic is further provided with a drinking device 26. The system 1 is designed to determine the presence of an animal 2.i near a drinking device 26 on the basis of the position of the animal 2.i determined by the system. The farm computer 22 is connected to the drinking device 26. The farm computer 22 is designed to determine whether the animal 2.i, whose presence is detected near the drinking device, is to obtain access to the drinking device 26. It will be clear that the farm computer 22 can operate the device 23 for separating the animal from the plurality of animals accordingly. Here, the apparatus 23 for separating the animal from the plurality of animals, which animal, in this example, may obtain access to the drinking device 26, can, in this example, comprise a gate and/or drink dispensing valve of the drinking device 26 to be operated by the farm computer 22. The farm computer can be designed to record the drinking behavior of the animal 2.i in order to, for instance, monitor the drinking behavior. The system outlined in Fig. Ia, Ib and Ic is further provided with a milking device 28. The system 1 is designed to determine the presence of an animal 2.i near the milking device 28 on the basis of the position of the animal 2.i determined by the system. The farm computer 22 is connected to the milking device 28. The farm computer 22 is designed to determine whether the animal, whose presence is detected near the milking device 28, is to obtain access to the milking device 28. It will be clear that the farm computer 22 can operate the device 23 for separating the animal from the plurality of animals accordingly. Here, the apparatus 23 for separating the animal from the plurality of animals, which animal, in this example, may obtain access to the milking device 28, can, in this example, comprise a gate of the milking device 28 to be operated, for instance, by the farm computer 22.

Preferably, the receivers of the system are placed at predetermined positions. The (mutual) positions of the receivers are entered into the system so that the system can locate the transmitters from the received ultra wide band signals of the transmitters. Naturally, it is also possible to calibrate the system 1 by placing a transmitter 8 on one or a number of known locations. In this case, it is also possible to have the system 1 determine the positions of the receivers 12. i in or adjacent the area 4 on the basis of the received signals of the transmitter 8. It is, for instance, possible to have the transmitter 8 send a signal, in succession, on four angular points of a square area. It is also possible to have a plurality of transmitters, at the same time, send a signal on the four angular points. If the coordinates of the angular points are entered into the system 1, the system can determine the coordinates of the receivers on the basis of, for instance, measured reception angle, delay time or delay time difference. For calibration, use can be made of the transmitter of the label or a separate calibration transmitter.

Figs. 6a and 6b show an example of an ultra wide band signal as transmitted by the transmitter 8 of the label 6.i. In Fig. 6a is shown the amplitude of the signal as function of time. Here, it is clearly visible that the ultra wide band signal is not a continuous signal. The ultra wide band signal is pulsed, having a duty cycle of 1/100 to 1/10,0000, preferably 1/500 to 1/3,000 and more preferably approximately 1/1,000. In Fig. 6a it is also clearly visible that the signal comprises a pulse train of separate pulses which are randomly distributed in time. Therefore, there is no periodicity in the signal. This can be clearly seen in Fig. 6b where the frequency spectrum of the time signal of Fig. 6a is shown. In Fig. 6b, no clear frequency peak can be indicated. The ultra wide band signal extends in the frequency spectrum over a frequency range of approximately 1 GHz to 100 GHz. The pulse train transmitted in the frequency area by the transmitter 8 is detected by the receiver 12.1, 12.2. It is evident that the transmitter 8 is designed to transmit the ultra wide band signal and that the receiver 12.1, 12.2 is designed to receive the ultra wide band signal in the frequency range from/of 1 GHz to 100 GHz.

The transmitter 8 is designed to transmit pulse trains at irregular moments. This also results in a wide band spectrum as here, too, periodicity lacks. Fig. 7a shows a series of pulse trains of the transmitter 8 of the first label 6.1 transmitted randomly in time. Fig. 7b shows a series of pulse trains of the transmitter 8 of the second label 6.2 transmitted randomly in time. Here, it is clearly visible that in the pulse train in Fig. 7a, the pulses have another (non-periodical) distribution in time than in the pulse train of Fig. 7b. The signal processing device 14 can determine, on the basis of, for instance, differences in the distribution of the pulses within the pulse trains, from which label the pulse train originates. As a result, each separate label can be located separately. Furthermore, a specific distribution of the pulses can also be coupled to an identity of the label. Fig. 8 shows a pulse train of which the distance (in time) between the successive pulses is known. The pulse train in Fig. 8 comprises a digital pulse-coded signal. The coding is provided by shifting a pulse of the pulse train in time (time-modulation). Delaying the pulse can for instance mean a logic "1" and advancing a pulse can for instance mean a logic "0". Fig. 9 shows a special embodiment of a time-modulated pulse where the shift of the pulse in time, in order to reach a coding, is a quarter pulse width. The signal processing device 14 can determine from which label the pulse train originates on the basis of, for instance, differences in codings of the pulse trains. As a result, each individual label can be located separately too. Furthermore, a specific coding can also be coupled to the identity of the label. Therefore, it is also possible that the transmitter of each label transmits an identical pulse train, while the identity of the label or of the animal to which the label is attached is added to the pulse train in digitally coded form. As set forth hereinabove, the ultra wide band signal has a low duty cycle, for instance 1/1,000, so that the energy consumption of the transmitter 8 is relatively limited. The energy consumption can be reduced still further if a repetition frequency with which the ultra wide band signal is transmitted depends on the movement of the animal 2.i to which the transmitter is attached. Fig. 2 shows a schematic representation of the label 6. Here, it can be seen that the transmitter 8 is connected to movement detecting means 16 which are designed to reduce, for instance, the repetition frequency if the animal 2.i moves less and, for instance, increase the repetition frequency if the animal 2.i moves more. This implies that the movement detecting means 16 are designed to determine the number of movements per period of time or time unit, while the movement detecting means 16 are arranged to regulate, in dependence thereon, the repetition frequency of the ultra wide band signal. It will be clear that in this example, the movement detecting means 16 are designed to increase, in use, the repetition frequency when the number of movements per period of time or per time unit measured by the movement detecting means 16 increases, and vice versa.

The movement detecting means 16 can also be arranged to switch off the transmitter 8 if the animal 2.i does not move. This implies that the movement detecting means 16 are designed to stop the transmission of the ultra wide band signal when, in use, it is detected with the aid of the movement detecting means 16, that the animal 2.i has not moved for a predetermined duration of time. As soon as no position information data of an animal 2.i is received, the signal processing device 14 can retain the last detected position. As soon as the animal 2.i moves again, the signal will be transmitted again so that the position of the animal 2.i is detected. This implies that the movement detecting means 16 are designed to resume transmission of the ultra wide band signal when, earlier, it has stopped and when, in use, it is detected with the aid of the movement detecting means, that the animal 2.i starts to move again. Fig. 2 also shows an energy source 18 which is connected to the transmitter 8. The energy source 18 can be designed as a battery. It is also possible to design the energy source as a movement- electrical energy converter known per se, or as a device for inductively taking up energy. In the latter case, the energy source 16 of the label 6.i can for instance be inductively charged as soon as an animal 2.i is present at a predetermined location, for instance near the feeding device 24.

The label 6 outlined in Fig. 2 is provided with a housing 30. Preferably, the housing 30 is manufactured from, for instance, a plastic, for instance PE or PTFE. In Fig. 3, a label 6 is outlined which is provided with a strip 32 for attaching the label to the neck of the at least one animal. The label 6 can also be designed to be attached to an ear of the animal, or to be provided subcutaneously in the animal.

Fig. 4 shows a schematic representation of a label 6 which is provided with a receiving device 34 for receiving a communication signal from a communication transmitter 36 which is connected to the processing device 14 or the farm computer 22 and is placed in or adjacent the area 4. The label may be provided with means 38 designed to actively lure the animal, in reaction to the received communication signal of the animal, with sound signals or speech to a predetermined location, for instance, the feeding device 24 or the milking device 28.

The system 1 can also be designed to form a virtual boundary of a (virtually) bounded area, the label being provided with means 40 arranged to chase the animal approaching the virtual boundary back into the area in reaction to the received communication signal. To this end, the means 40 can for instance be designed for chasing the animal back by means of sound or electric impulses.

The invention is not limited in any way to the described embodiment. For instance, it is also possible to provide the system with only one receiver. Here, on the basis of the angle at which the label is detected and the time the ultra wide band signal requires to travel from the transmitter to the one receiver, the one receiver can locate the transmitter.

It is also possible to provide the system for locating the animal with a label that is not provided with a transmitter, but which is arranged to reflect an ultra wide band signal of a transmitter 10 of the system placed in or adjacent the area.

In the described embodiment, an ultra wide band signal is described which is coded with a time-modulation. However, other codings are also possible such as, for instance, amplitude, phase and spectral modulation.

Such variants are all understood to fall within the framework of the invention.

Claims

Claims
1. A system for locating at least one animal in a predetermined area, characterized in that the system is provided with at least one label designed to be provided on or in the at least one animal, which label is provided with a transmitter for transmitting an ultra wide band signal; at least one receiver which is placed in or adjacent the area and is designed to receive the ultra wide band signal of the transmitter of the at least one label; and a signal processing device connected to or integrated with the at least one receiver for locating the at least one label on the basis of the ultra wide band signal received by the at least one receiver on the basis of, for instance, delay time and/or reception angle.
2. A system according to claim 1, characterized in that the system is designed for locating the at least one label in two (spatial) dimensions. 3. A system according to claim 2, characterized in that the system is provided with at least two receivers for locating the at least one label on the basis of, for instance, a first measured delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the first receiver, and a second measured delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the second receiver, or on the basis of, for instance, a first measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the first receiver and a second measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the second receiver, while preferably, the at least two receivers are disposed at different positions. 4. A system according to claim 2, characterized in that the system is provided with at least three receivers for locating the at least one label on the basis of, for instance, a first measured difference in delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the first and the second receiver, and a second measured difference in delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the second and the third receiver, while the at least three receivers are disposed at different locations. 5. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the system is designed to locate the at least one label in three (spatial) dimensions to determine whether, for instance, the at least one animal is standing or lying.
6. A system according to claim 5, characterized in that the system is provided with at least two receivers for locating the at least one label on the basis of, for instance, a first and a second measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the first receiver, and a third and fourth measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the second receiver, while the at least two receivers are disposed at different positions.
7. A system according to claim 5, characterized in that the system is provided with at least three receivers for locating the at least one label on the basis of, for instance, a first measured delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the first receiver, a second measured delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the second receiver, and a third measured delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the third receiver, or on the basis of, for instance, a first measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the first receiver, a second measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the second receiver and a third measured angle at which the signal of the transmitter of the at least one label is received by the third receiver, while the at least three receivers are disposed at different positions.
8. A system according to claim 5, characterized in that the system is provided with at least four receivers for locating the at least one label on the basis of, for instance, a first measured difference in delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the first and the second receiver, a second measured difference in delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the second and the third receiver and a third measured difference in delay time of the signal from the transmitter of the at least one label to the fourth and the first, second or third receiver, while the at least four receivers are disposed at different positions. 9. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the ultra wide band signal comprises a pulse-coded signal. 10. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the ultra wide band signal extends in the frequency domain over at least the range of 1 GHz to 100 GHz.
11. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the ultra wide band signal is pulsed, having a duty cycle of 1/100 to 1/10,000, preferably 1/500 to 1/3,000 and more preferably approximately 1/1,000.
12. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the at least one receiver is designed to receive an ultra wide band signal with a frequency in the range of 1 GHz to 100 GHz. 13. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the ultra wide band signal of the at least one label comprises time information, for instance the time of transmission.
14. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the ultra wide band signal of the at least one label comprises data of the identity of the at least one animal the label is attached to.
15. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the ultra wide band signal of the at least one label comprises biometric data such as blood pressure and/or heart rate of the at least one animal the label is attached to. 16. A system according to claim 15, characterized in that the at least one label comprises means for determining the biometric data. 17. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the label comprises a transmitter which transmits the ultra wide band signal with a repetition frequency which depends on movement of the at least one animal the transmitter is attached to in use.
18. A system according to claim 17, characterized in that the label is provided with movement detecting means.
19. A system according to claim 18, characterized in that the movement detecting means are designed to determine the number of movements per period of time or time unit, while the movement detecting means are designed to regulate, in dependence thereon, the repetition frequency of the ultra wide band signal.
20. A system according to claim 19, characterized in that the movement detecting means are designed to increase, in use, the repetition frequency when the number of movements per period of time or time unit, measured by the movement detecting means, increases and vice versa.
21. A system according to any one of claims 17 - 20, characterized in that the movement detecting means are designed to stop the transmission of the ultra wide band signal when, in use, it is detected with the aid of the movement detecting means that the animal has not moved for a predetermined duration of time.
22. A system according to claim 21, characterized in that the movement detecting means are designed to resume transmission of the ultra wide band signal when, earlier, it has stopped and when, in use, it is detected with the aid of the movement detecting means that the animal starts to move again.
23. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the at least one label is provided with an energy source.
24. A system according to claim 23, characterized in that the energy source comprises a battery. 25. A system according to claim 23 or 24, characterized in that the energy source comprises a movement-electrical energy converter.
26. A system according to any one of claims 23 - 25, characterized in that the energy source comprises a device for inductively taking up energy. 27. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the system is provided with a farm computer which is connected to the signal processing unit.
28. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the system is provided with a plurality of labels while, in use, each animal of a plurality of animals is provided with at least one of the labels, the labels being designed to generate ultra wide band signals distinguishable from each other.
29. A system according to claim 28, characterized in that the system is designed to separate an animal whose position is determined with the aid of at least one label which is worn by the animal.
30. A system according to claim 28 or 29, characterized in that the system is designed to locate at least one predetermined animal of the plurality of animals which are each provided with at least one label, which animal needs extra attention because of, for instance, too long an intermilking period, too great a feed supply, disease or an ailment.
31. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the system is further provided with a feeding device, while the system is designed to determine the presence of the at least one animal near the feeding device on the basis of the position of the at least one animal determined by the system.
32. A system according to claims 27 and 31, characterized in that the farm computer is connected to the feeding device, while the farm computer is designed to determine whether the at least one animal should obtain access to the feeding device and/or how much and/or which type of feed is to be given to the animal. 33. A system according to claim 31 or 32, characterized in that the farm computer is designed to record the foraging behavior of the at least one animal in order to, for instance, monitor the feed intake and/or detect diseases.
34. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the system is further provided with a drinking device, while the system is designed to determine the presence of the at least one animal near the drinking device on the basis of the position of the at least one animal determined by the system.
35. A system according to claim 27 or 34, characterized in that the farm computer is connected to the drinking device, while the farm computer is designed to determine whether the at least one animal should obtain access to the drinking device.
36. A system according to claim 34 or 35, characterized in that the farm computer is designed to record the drinking behavior of the at least one animal in order to, for instance, monitor the drinking behavior.
37. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the system is further provided with a milking device, while the system is designed to determine the presence of the at least one animal near the milking device on the basis of the position of the at least one animal determined by the system.
38. A system according to claims 27 and 37, characterized in that the farm computer is connected to the milking device, while the farm computer is designed to determine whether the at least one animal should obtain access to the milking device. 39. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the system is designed to count animals on, for instance, an animal assembly location. 40. A system according to claim 27 and optionally any one of claims 28 —
39. characterized in that the farm computer is designed to record the position and/or movement pattern and/or mounting behavior of the at least one animal, in order to detect rut, heat or disease.
41. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the farm computer is designed to record bedding behavior of the at least one animal.
42. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the at least one label is provided with a housing which is preferably manufactured from a plastic, for instance PE or PTFE.
43. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the at least one label is provided with a receiving device for receiving a communication signal from a communication transmitter of the system which is connected to the processing device and is placed in or adjacent the area.
44. A system according to claim 43, characterized in that the at least one label is provided with means designed to lure the at least one animal, in a reaction to the received communication signal, to a predetermined position, for instance a feeding device or milking device.
45. A system according to claim 43 or 44, characterized in that the system is designed to form a virtual boundary of a (virtually) bounded area while the at least one label is provided with means designed to chase the at least one animal back into the area in reaction to the received communication signal.
46. A system according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the position of the at least one receiver is predetermined.
47. A system according to claim 46, characterized in that the position of the at least one receiver is entered into the system.
48. A system according to any one of claims 1 - 45, characterized in that the system is designed to locate the at least one receiver of the system on the basis of an ultra wide band signal of the at least one label received by the system, or at least one calibration transmitter of the system in or adjacent the area.
PCT/NL2005/000621 2004-08-27 2005-08-29 Ultra wide band system for animal location WO2006022548A1 (en)

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