Cyclist whizzing past CSIRO’s position location transceivers mounted on tripods.

Our wireless location and tracking technology has applications from sport to emergency response management.

Wireless tracking for challenging applications

CSIRO’s portable location technology operates indoors, underground and in built-up areas.

  • 4 July 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011

Locating and tracking people and objects leads to increased safety and efficiency in many applications.

Unfortunately, traditional technologies such as GPS and WiFi tracking do not work well, or even at all, in many situations, such as underground, in open cut mines, city CBDs, indoors or disaster zones where existing infrastructure has been destroyed.

Current activities

Through substantial research and development in wireless localisation technology, CSIRO is developing the Wireless Ad hoc System for Positioning (WASP) which uses low cost, portable hardware to provide highly accurate tracking of people and objects where traditional technologies do not work and clear reception of radio signals is difficult.

This video explains how WASP works and where it can be used.

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Wireless Tracking Technology
WASP features anchor nodes at known locations around the area being monitored communicating wirelessly with a small mobile tag attached to the object(s) being tracked.

CSIRO’s patented technology allows accurate tracking using low cost hardware that can be rapidly deployed and which does not rely on existing infrastructure or information.

It has advantages such as:

  • lower cost
  • high accuracy
  • high update rates
  • high portability
  • rapid set-up
  • no cabling required
  • operates in severe multipath radio environments.

Combining our localisation technologies with sensors means we are able to monitor, for example, the heart rate and temperature of emergency workers sent into a dangerous situation. With other sensors monitoring gas or radiation levels in the surrounding environment, we can provide exact readings at a known location.


WASP is a highly flexible platform that can be tailored to a wide range of challenging environments and demanding applications.

We have developed and trialled our technology in three main application areas:

  • sport − tracking elite athletes for improved training
  • mining − tracking staff and vehicles in mines for improved safety and production monitoring
  • emergency management − tracking and monitoring fire fighters for improved incident response.

The main purpose of our WASP technology is to improve safety. For example, fire fighters about to enter a burning building currently use a manual tag board to account for personnel. With WASP the location of anchor nodes placed outside the building is determined with GPS and the location of the fire fighters inside the building (where GPS is not available) is determined by WASP.

Technical challenges

The biggest challenge in developing WASP was using inexpensive components to accurately track objects in difficult radio environments (where signals bounce off surfaces creating an echo-like effect known as multipath interference).

CSIRO developed world-leading algorithms that allow the time of arrival of signals, hence the position of the object being tracked, to be determined extremely accurately, even in the presence of severe multipath interference.


Together with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), we have validated our WASP technology for use in indoor and outdoor sports. It is currently being used by the AIS in training of elite athletes.

WASP has also been validated for mining and security applications through trials with partners in these industries.


This work won the following awards:

  • iAwards (NSW), research and development category (2010)
  • Engineering Excellence Awards (Sydney division), research and development category (2009).

Learn more about how CSIRO is Creating a wireless world.