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Distributed data acquisition unit with microsecond-accurate wireless clock synchronisation

By Philip Cadell and Ben Upcroft


This paper describes the implementation of the first portable, embedded data acquisition unit (BabelFuse) that is able to acquire and timestamp generic sensor data and trigger General Purpose I/O (GPIO) events against a microsecond-accurate wirelessly-distributed ‘global’ clock. A significant issue encountered when fusing data received from multiple sensors is the accuracy of the timestamp associated with each piece of data. This is particularly important in applications such as Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) where vehicle velocity forms an important part of the mapping algorithms; on fast-moving vehicles, even millisecond inconsistencies in data timestamping can produce errors which need to be compensated for. The timestamping problem is compounded in a robot swarm environment especially if non-deterministic communication hardware (such as IEEE-802.11-based wireless) and inaccurate clock synchronisation protocols are used. The issue of differing timebases makes correlation of data difficult and prevents the units from reliably performing synchronised operations or manoeuvres. By utilising hardware-assisted timestamping, clock synchronisation protocols based on industry standards and firmware designed to minimise indeterminism, an embedded data acquisition unit capable of microsecond-level clock synchronisation is presented

Topics: 090602 Control Systems Robotics and Automation
Publisher: IEEE
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1109/ISSNIP.2013.6529775
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