NASA International Space Station 

RFID Localization Challenge

Compete to create Algorithms to find the location of RFID tagged items within the ISS as accurately as possible!

Help improve the way NASA locates tagged items on the ISS by creating algorithms that mine the archived RFID data!

Tracking items in space habitats can be more challenging than it might at first seem. The environment is predominantly closed, with the exception of visiting vehicles that deliver new cargo and jettison of trash or return of some items. However, there are a number of factors that complicate tracking, including crews that change out in 6 month intervals, laboratory space that doubles as living space, cargo transfer bags (CTBs) that are nearly identical in appearance, and limited stowage space.

To address cargo tracking issues in future deep space missions, NASA has initiated the REALM (RFID-Enabled Autonomous Logistics Management) experiments on the International Space Station. The first phase, REALM-1, involves an RFID reader system with 24 fixed antennas in 3 of the ISS modules, which are about 3.5m in diameter and range in length from 6-8m. These 3 modules are referred to herein as “instrumented modules”. There are about 3,200 RFID tags on a variety of items, as well as about 100 marker tags that are placed on the ISS internal structure and serve for calibration or machine learning. Many of the individual tagged items are contained within CTBs, which are also tagged. The raw RFID data contains the tag identification code, estimates of the signal strength and phase received by the reader (or interrogator), the reader and antenna on which the tag was read, and a few other parameters. All RFID data is downlinked and archived on the ground. Scattering of the RFID signals in the confines of the ISS complicates triangulation methods, although a location accuracy of about 1.5m (average) has been obtained.

Background and Motivation

Challenge Objective

NASA has an experimental Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking system on-board the International Space Station (ISS) that can provide the location of tagged items with average, standard deviation, and maximum errors of 1.5, 0.5, and 3 meters, respectively. We would like to see how much improvement can be obtained using other algorithms that mine the archived RFID data.

Your task will be to detect the location of RFID tagged items within the ISS as accurately as possible. The location your algorithm returns will be compared to ground truth data, and the quality of your solution will be judged by how much your solution correlates with the expected results. See Scoring for details.

1st Prize 

2nd Prize

3rd Prize

4th Prize

5th Prize

Result Containerization








The match has a total prize purse of $26500

Challenge Timeline

Winners Announced!


Competition Ends


Match Begins!


* Timeline is subject to slight changes

Microsite and Match Details


Teams are allowed

  • Teaming is allowed. Topcoder members are permitted to form teams for this competition. 
  • After forming a team, Topcoder members of the same team are permitted to collaborate with other members of their team. To form a team, a Topcoder member may recruit other Topcoder members, and register the team by completing this Topcoder Teaming Form.
  • Each team must declare a Captain. All participants in a team must be registered Topcoder members in good standing. All participants in a team must individually register for this Competition and accept its Terms and Conditions prior to joining the team. 
  • Team Captains must apportion prize distribution percentages for each teammate on the Teaming Form. The sum of all prize portions must equal 100%. 
  • The minimum permitted size of a team is 1 member, the maximum permitted team size is 5 members. Only team Captains may submit a solution to the Competition. Topcoder members participating in a team will not receive a rating for this Competition. 
  • Notwithstanding Topcoder rules and conditions to the contrary, solutions submitted by any Topcoder member who is a member of a team but is not the Captain of the team may be deleted and is ineligible for award.

Teaming Information

New to Topcoder? Join the Topcoder Community here so you can participate in this amazing challenge and many more like it!

© 2019 Topcoder, Inc. All Rights Reserved.