High-Performance Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) for Unmanned Systems

VectorNav Technologies Launches VN-100 Rugged Surface Mount Orientation Sensor

By Caroline Rees / 25 Jan 2012
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The VN-100 Rugged surface mount orientation sensor

VectorNav Technologies, LLC, a leading provider of embedded navigation solutions, announced today the release of the VN-100 Rugged, an aluminum encased version of its production proven VN-100 surface mount orientation sensor. The VN-100 Rugged is a miniature, high-performance orientation / inertial sensor built on a 9-axis suite of factory calibrated MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers. Its compact design (33 x 26 x 9 mm), low mass (13 g) and robust aluminum package allow for easy integration into even the most constrained of designs and make it ideal for applications operating in a wide variety of harsh and demanding environments.

The VN-100 Rugged provides accuracies of better than 0.5 degrees in pitch and roll and 2 degrees in heading and, like the VN-100 surface mount module, each sensor is individually calibrated for bias, scale factor and misalignment errors. All sensors are also available with a thermal calibration option which extends this process over the full operating temperature range of the sensor (-40°C to +85°C).

In addition to the release of the VN-100 Rugged, VectorNav is also providing its customers with an improved version of its sensor fusion algorithm, the Vector Processing Engine™ (VPE). The VPE runs onboard all VN-100 sensors at a rate of 200 Hz, allowing the sensors to output real-time and accurate orientation estimates and inertial measurements.

The enhanced version of the VPE is the result of VectorNav’s desire to improve upon existing algorithms, which suffer from degraded performance in the presence of magnetic and acceleration disturbances. The new version of the VPE employs advanced filtering and adaptive tuning techniques to detect these disturbances in real-time, account for them and produce a reliable attitude solution. These techniques help to maintain accurate attitude estimates across a wide range of operating environments. In addition, the VPE employs quaternion math to eliminate the mathematical singularities often described as “gimbal lock,” which afflict other estimation algorithms. The quaternion algorithms enable the user to operate the sensor over a full 360° range of motion as well as mount the sensor in any orientation. The VPE also compensates for gyro drift in real-time to provide attitude estimates that are both smooth and drift-free. Some of the additional features of the enhanced VPE algorithm include an embedded hard / soft iron calibration, which performs continuous magnetic calibration while the sensor is in operation and a multi-sensor synchronization feature, which allows the VN-100 to sync with additional VectorNav sensors or other devices, such as GPS.

“VectorNav was founded based on our collective aspirations to combine the best in aerospace engineering principles with the latest MEMS sensors to offer breakthrough navigation solutions to the inertial sensor market,” said VectorNav President and Co-Founder, John Brashear. “The Rugged package combined with the upgraded version of the VPE is another step toward achieving these goals. By applying our experience in these two fields to address the common setbacks customers encountered with inertial sensors, we have produced a cost-effective and versatile solution that enables applications once out of reach to customers seeking to expand the limits of what is currently possible in intelligent navigation.”

The VN-100 Rugged includes Serial TTL, RS-232, and USB data interfaces, and is well suited for a wide variety of applications including robotics, manned and unmanned vehicles, military and maritime applications, camera and platform stabilization, mining, and surveying. Production units are available now for order. For more information and specifications on the VN-100 Rugged or the Vector Processing Engine algorithm, or for information on the complete VectorNav Technologies product line visit www.vectornav.com.

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Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact