Next-Generation IMUs for Unmanned Systems Under Development

By Mike Ball / 28 Jan 2021

Next-Generation IMUs for Unmanned Systems

Honeywell has received funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop the next generation of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) inertial sensor technology for commercial and defense navigation applications. Prototypes of the new technology have been shown via tests in Honeywell labs to be more than an order of magnitude more accurate than Honeywell’s HG1930 tactical-grade inertial measurement unit (IMU).

Honeywell has been working with DARPA under the Precise Robust Inertial Guidance for Munitions: Thermally Stabilized Inertial Guidance for Munitions (PRIGM TIGM) program. These new, higher performance MEMS sensors will use different sensor designs and electronics to enable higher performance, and will serve a broad range of military and commercial applications in autonomous UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) platforms, including future urban air mobility aircraft.

Honeywell expects that commercial sales of IMUs containing the new sensor technology are still several years away, but one of the first products using this new technology is expected to be more than 50 times more accurate while roughly the same size as Honeywell’s HG1930 IMU.

Jenni Strabley, director of offering management for Inertial Sensors at Honeywell Aerospace, commented: “Typically, MEMS inertial sensors have been on the lower end of the performance scale, but this latest milestone shows we are changing that paradigm. With this next-generation MEMS technology, we’re increasing performance without having to significantly change the size or weight of the IMU. This is a game-changer for the navigation industry, where customers need highly accurate solutions but cannot afford to compromise on weight or size.”

“Now that we have demonstrated that MEMS is capable of reaching these incredibly precise performance levels, it is the perfect time to start talking with potential users about how this technology could help their applications. We believe this new technology will have a variety of applications, such as onboard future vehicles that will fly in urban environments where lightweight, extremely precise navigation is critical to safer operations. Additionally, there are other applications that haven’t been invented yet but may be enabled by these types of technology innovations.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact