Office for Technology Commercialization

Detecting Vehicle Position using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Technology #z05077

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Max Donath, PhD Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Director of Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute
Dr. Donath’s most recent research efforts have been directed toward the application of sensors and control systems to reduce driver error and the resulting road fatalities.
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Craig Shankwitz, PhD Director of Intelligent Vehicles Laboratory
Dr. Shankwitz' research interests include man-machine interaction, vehicle-driver interfaces, sensors, human in the loop control systems, and non-linear vehicle dynamic problems in general.
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Andrew Morrow
Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

US Patent

US Patent 7,990,286

Intelligent Transportation Systems Can Detect Vehicle Position with RFID Tags

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) presents a robust approach for determining vehicle position. By installing radio frequency identification tags encoded with road name, specific lane, direction of travel, and distance from a known reference, vehicles traveling with RFID readers can determine precise position. Vehicle units communicate with sensors and actuators in other vehicles to update position between adjacent tags. RFID tags can be inexpensively used in numerous intelligent transportation systems and have the potential to enable bus location automation, high occupancy tolling lanes, rear-end crash prevention, in-vehicle signing, and vehicle navigation without global positioning systems (GPS). RFID tags are advantageous for intelligent transportation systems by controlling traffic and turn lane signals, facilitating passage of emergency vehicles, and determining distance traveled on tollways to calculate the appropriate toll.

MN-IP Try and Buy
  • Trial period of 6 to 12 months. $5000/6 months.
  • Fee waived for MN-based companies or if sponsoring $50,000+ in research.
  • Non-exclusive license for a $30,000 conversion payment.
  • No patent costs.
  • No royalty payments.

** Contact Andrew Morrow for more information.

Vehicle Positioning Systems Extend GPS Capabilities for Vehicle Navigation

Vehicle Positioning Systems complement and extend the capability GPS devices by removing the reliance on satellite signals. One of the main faults of GPS systems is the requirement for direct line-of-sight signal paths to three satellite signals at all times. Traveling in urban areas, signals are easily corrupted by tall buildings, bridges, and traffic congestion. Removing problems associated with temporary signal loss of GPS systems, the Vehicle Positioning System enables many transit applications including headway control of bus platoons, lane change assistance, rear-end collision avoidance, and bay mark-up applications. The Vehicle Positioning System allows vehicle navigation to continue in places where GPS signals are unreliable.


  • Accurate--RFID tags in road lanes and other vehicles communicate with the Vehicle Postioning System to accurately communicate precise vehicle position.
  • Reliable--unlike GPS devices, the Vehicle Positioning System removes satellite outages due to signal corruption/obstruction and provides continuous vehicle navigation.
  • Inexpensive-- robust, novel, affordable approach for intelligent transportation systems.
  • Robust Vehicle Positioning System-- ability to control traffic and turn lane signals, facilitate the passage of emergency vehicles, and determine distance traveled on tollways.