Precise time-of-arrival (TOA) estimation is one of the most important techniques in RF-based positioning systems that use wireless sensor networks (WSNs). Because the accuracy of TOA estimation is proportional to the RF signal bandwidth, using broad bandwidth is the most fundamental approach for achieving higher accuracy. Hence, ultra-wide-band (UWB) systems with a bandwidth of 500 MHz are commonly used. However, wireless systems with broad bandwidth suffer from the disadvantages of high complexity and high power consumption. Therefore, it is difficult to employ such systems in various WSN applications. In this paper, we present a precise time-of-arrival (TOA) estimation algorithm using an IEEE 802.15.4 ZigBee system with a narrow bandwidth of 2 MHz. In order to overcome the lack of bandwidth, the proposed algorithm estimates the fractional TOA within the sampling interval. Simulation results show that the proposed TOA estimation algorithm provides an accuracy of 0.5 m at a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 8 dB and achieves an SNR gain of 5 dB as compared with the existing algorithm. In addition, experimental results indicate that the proposed algorithm provides accurate TOA estimation in a real indoor environment.
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