FlexLoc: Sensor TAGs measure the distance of the people to the car and calculate their positions to each other.

FlexLoc - Flexible localization solution for automated production and logistics processes

Agile and automated production processes have now become virtually indispensable. By replacing manual work in difficult or repetitive tasks, they increase quality and reduce production costs. FlexLoc, the flexible localization solution, is an application that represents a significant advance in agile and connected manufacturing. This mobile ad hoc positioning system can, for example, work with an ultra-wideband (UWB) localization system in the factory infrastructure to locate mobile machine tools on large workpieces.

FlexLoc technology also offers great potential for logistics. Here, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) fitted with sensor nodes can interact with a person carrying an associated tag. The localization solution is scalable in precision and range and can be expanded as required.

Autonomous tools for flexible production processes

Particularly in the machining of large parts, it makes sense to replace large stationary machine tools with miniaturized mobile machining units. These can be used to increase flexibility and freedom of design during production. 

The mobile ad hoc positioning system can be set up locally. It comprises several wireless UWB localization anchors distributed around the working area. Positioning requires a UWB localization system with infrastructure anchors covering the entire area. The signals from the mobile anchors and the infrastructure anchors enable the mobile anchors to self-locate with a precision in the low centimeter range.

The aim here is to have several mobile tools acting simultaneously and autonomously to machine a workpiece.

Decimeter precision for localization of mobile platforms

For the localization of mobile platforms in logistics processes, each mobile platform can be fitted with sensor nodes to enable localization with precision in the decimeter range. This lets an AGV interact with people using relative localization and determine its precise position in the warehouse using absolute localization.

Automatic human-vehicle interaction

In combination with UWB radio nodes, the AGV can follow the picker. For this purpose, the vehicle is fitted with four wireless smart item (WiSmIt) anchors and the picker carries a WiSmIt tag. In addition, the vehicle is fitted with sensors that enable it to use time-of-flight measurements to calculate the distance to a picker carrying a radio transponder and determine the picker’s position relative to the vehicle.

© Fraunhofer IIS

The WiSmIt system is designed to track the position in the warehouse of both the vehicle and the picker carrying a tag. It also works when the person to be followed is standing next to or behind the vehicle. This builds on the FOLLOWme research project at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in collaboration with the Chemnitz University of Technology, which could detect a person only when they were standing directly in front of the vehicle.

Main features


  • Flexible picking process with follow mode
  • Quality assurance in production processes


  • Wireless and broadband communication
  • High-precision positioning thanks to UWB localization system
  • Relative and absolute localization of mobile platforms




  • Scalable in range and precision
  • Retrofitting of existing AGVs with UWB nodes

Please contact us!

For the extension of our research project, we are looking for you! You would like to improve your logistics or production processes? Do you want to enter the digital age together with us? Then write to us!