Skip to main content


Blind Mobile Positioning in Urban Environment Based on Ray-Tracing Analysis

Article metrics


A novel scheme is described for determining the position of an unknown mobile terminal without any prior information of transmitted signals, keeping in mind, for example, radiowave surveillance. The proposed positioning algorithm is performed by using a single base station with an array of sensors in multipath environments. It works by combining the spatial characteristics estimated from data measurement and ray-tracing (RT) analysis with highly accurate, three-dimensional terrain data. It uses two spatial parameters in particular that characterize propagation environments in which there are spatially spreading signals due to local scattering: the angle of arrival and the degree of scattering related to the angular spread of the received signals. The use of RT analysis enables site-specific positioning using only a single base station. Furthermore, our approach is a so-called blind estimator, that is, it requires no prior information about the mobile terminal such as the signal waveform. Testing of the scheme in a city of high density showed that it could achieve m position-determination accuracy more than of the time even under non-line-of-sight conditions.


  1. 1.

    Rappaport TS, Reed JH, Woerner BD: Position location using wireless communications on highways of the futur. IEEE Communications Magazine 1996, 34(10):33–41. 10.1109/35.544321

  2. 2.

    Reed JH, Krizman KJ, Woerner BD, Rappaport TS: An overview of the challenges and progress in meeting the E-911 requirement for location service. IEEE Communications Magazine 1998, 36(4):30–37. 10.1109/35.667410

  3. 3.

    Tekinay S, Chao E, Richton R: Performance benchmarking for wireless location systems. IEEE Communications Magazine 1998, 36(4):72–76. 10.1109/35.667416

  4. 4.

  5. 5.

    Drane C, Macnaughtan M, Scott C: Positioning GSM telephones. IEEE Communications Magazine 1998, 36(4):46–54. 10.1109/35.667413

  6. 6.

    Pillai SU: Array Signal Processing. Springer, New York, NY, USA; 1989.

  7. 7.

    Caffery JJ Jr., Stüber GL: Subscriber location in CDMA cellular networks. IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology 1998, 47(2):406–416. 10.1109/25.669079

  8. 8.

    Chan YT, Ho KC: A simple and efficient estimator for hyperbolic location. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 1994, 42(8):1905–1915. 10.1109/78.301830

  9. 9.

    Jami I, Ali M, Ormondroyd RF: Comparison of methods of locating and tracking cellular mobiles. Proceedings of IEE Colloquium on Novel Methods of Location and Tracking of Cellular Mobiles and Their System Applications, May 1999, London, UK 99/046: 1/1–6/1.

  10. 10.

    Weiss AJ: On the accuracy of a cellular location system based on received signal strength measurement. IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology 2003, 52(6):1508–1518. 10.1109/TVT.2003.819613

  11. 11.

    Cong L, Zhuang W: Non-line-of-sight error mitigation in mobile location. IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications 2005, 4(2):560–573.

  12. 12.

    Kozick RJ, Sadler BM: Source localization with distributed sensor arrays and partial spatial coherence. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 2004, 52(3):601–616. 10.1109/TSP.2003.822354

  13. 13.

    Ahonen S, Eskelinen P: Mobile terminal location for UMTS. IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine 2003, 18(2):23–27. 10.1109/MAES.2003.1183866

  14. 14.

    Kaemarungsi K, Krishnamurthy P: Modeling of indoor positioning systems based on location fingerprinting. Proceedings of the 23th Annual Joint Conference of the IEEE Computer and Communications Societies (INFOCOM '04), March 2004, Hong Kong 2: 1012–1022.

  15. 15.

    Nerguizian C, Despins C, Affès S: Geolocation in mines with an impulse response fingerprinting technique and neural networks. Proccedings of IEEE 60th Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC '04), September 2004, Los Angeles, Calif, USA 5: 3589–3594.

  16. 16.

    Takenga CM, Anne KR, Kyamakya K, Chedjou JC: Comparison of gradient descent method, Kalman filtering and decoupled Kalman in training neural networks used for fingerprint-based positioning. Proccedings of IEEE 60th Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC '04), September 2004, Los Angeles, Calif, USA 6: 4146–4150.

  17. 17.

    Porretta M, Nepa P, Giannetti F, et al.: A novel single base station location technique for microcellular wireless networks: description and validation by a deterministic propagation model. IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology 2004, 53(5):1502–1514. 10.1109/TVT.2004.832390

  18. 18.

    Vanderveen MC, van der Veen A-J, Paulraj A: Estimation of multipath parameters in wireless communications. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 1998, 46(3):682–690. 10.1109/78.661335

  19. 19.

    Knisely DN, Kumar S, Laha S, Nanda S: Evolution of wireless data services: IS-95 to cdma2000. IEEE Communications Magazine 1998, 36(10):140–149. 10.1109/35.722150

  20. 20.

    Asztély D, Ottersten B: The effects of local scattering on direction of arrival estimation with MUSIC. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 1999, 47(12):3220–3234. 10.1109/78.806068

  21. 21.

    Trump T, Ottersten B: Estimation of nominal direction of arrival and angular spread using an array of sensors. Signal Processing 1996, 50(1–2):57–69. 10.1016/0165-1684(96)00003-5

  22. 22.

    Wax M, Hilsenrath O: Signature matching for location determination in wireless communication systems. US patent no. 6,112,095

  23. 23.

    Lawton MC, McGeehan JP: The application of a deterministic ray launching algorithm for the prediction of radio channel characteristics in small-cell environments. IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology 1994, 43(4):955–969. 10.1109/25.330158

  24. 24.

    Hall MPM, Barclay LW, Hewitt MT: Propagation of Radiowaves. The Institution of Electrical Engineers, London, UK; 1996.

  25. 25.

    Tsuji H, Yamada K, Ogawa H: A new approach to array beamforming using local scattering modeling. Proccedings of IEEE 54th Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC '01), October 2001, Atlantic City, NJ, USA 3: 1284–1288.

  26. 26.

    Yamada K, Tsuji H: Using a model of scattering in a low-intersymbol-interference channel for array beamforming. Proceedings of the 11th European Signal Processing Conference (EUSIPCO '02), September 2002, Toulouse, France

  27. 27.

    Yan H, Fan HH: On source association of DOA estimation under multipath propagation. IEEE Signal Processing Letters 2005, 12(10):717–720.

  28. 28.

    Kikuchi S, Tsuji H, Miura R, Sano A: Mobile localization using local scattering model in multipath environments. Proccedings of IEEE 60th Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC '04), September 2004, Los Angeles, Calif, USA 1: 339–343.

  29. 29.

    Wax M, Kailath T: Detection of signals by information theoretic criteria. IEEE Transactions on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing 1985, 33(2):387–392. 10.1109/TASSP.1985.1164557

  30. 30.

    Abramovich Y, Spencer NK, Gorokhov AY: Bounds on maximum likelihood ratio—part II: application to antenna array detection—estimation with imperfect wavefront coherence. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 2005, 53(6):2046–2058.

  31. 31.

    Shahbazpanahi S, Valaee S, Bastani MH: Distributed source localization using ESPRIT algorithm. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 2001, 49(10):2169–2178. 10.1109/78.950773

  32. 32.

    Shan T-J, Wax M, Kailath T: On spatial smoothing for direction-of-arrival estimation of coherent signals. IEEE Transactions on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing 1985, 33(4):806–811. 10.1109/TASSP.1985.1164649

  33. 33.

    Wang ZX, Guo DR: Special Functions. World Scientific, Hackensack, NJ, USA; 1989.

  34. 34.

    Kanazawa A, Tsuji H, Ogawa H, Nakagawa Y, Fukagawa T: An experimental study of DOA estimation in multipath environment using an adaptive array antenna equipment. Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Microwave Conference, December 2000, Sydney, Australia 804–807.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Shohei Kikuchi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kikuchi, S., Sano, A. & Tsuji, H. Blind Mobile Positioning in Urban Environment Based on Ray-Tracing Analysis. EURASIP J. Adv. Signal Process. 2006, 038989 (2006) doi:10.1155/ASP/2006/38989

Download citation


  • Urban Environment
  • Prior Information
  • Radiowave
  • Spatial Characteristic
  • Mobile Terminal