A scalable architecture for distributed transmit beamforming with commodity radios: design and proof of concept

We describe a fully-wireless prototype of distributed transmit beamforming on a software-defined radio platform. Distributed beamforming is a cooperative transmission technique that can achieve orders of magnitude increases in range or energy efficiency of wireless communication systems. However, this technique requires precise synchronization of the radio frequency signal from each transmitter. The significance of our prototype is in demonstrating that this requirement can be satisfied using digital signal processing methods on commodity hardware with low-quality oscillators. Our synchronization approach scales to large numbers of transmitters: each transmitter runs independent algorithms based on periodically transmitted feedback packets from the receiver. A key simplification is the decoupling of the algorithms for frequency locking and beamsteering at each transmitter, even though both processes use the same feedback packets. Frequency locking employs an Extended Kalman filter to track the local oscillator offset between a transmitter and the receiver, using frequency offset measurements based on the feedback packet it waveform, while the phase adjustments for beamsteering are determined using a one-bit feedback algorithm based on the feedback packet it payload. Our prototype demonstrates that distributed transmit beamforming can be incorporated into wireless networks without requiring hardware innovations, and provides open-source building blocks for future research and development.


F. Quitin, M. M. Ur Rahman, R. Mudumbai, and U. Madhow
IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Volume: 12
Number: 3
Pages: 1418–1428
Date: March, 2013
ICB Affiliated Authors: Upamanyu Madhow