VectorNav’s VN-200 aids in precision geo-pointing for miniature Epsilon series of gyro-stabilized gimbalsPamela
Octopus ISR Systems, a division of UAV Factory Ltd., announced the release of a new feature, “Precision Geo-Lock”, for its miniature Epsilon series of gyro-stabilized gimbals.
Precision Geo-Lock combines a state-of-the-art GPS-aided inertial navigation system (GPS/INS) with dedicated software algorithms and payload operator software. It provides the user with highly accurate target geo-location, range-to-target, as well as Geo-Lock functionality and moving map user interface.
Precision geo-location challenges
Equipping a miniature airborne gimbal with precision geo-location presents a multitude of challenges. First, the gimbal operates in a high vibration environment, high accelerations and extreme ranges in temperature. Also, unmanned aircraft often use miniature gyro-stabilized gimbals. Thus, small size and low power consumption are significant factors.
“Traditionally, small gyro-stabilized gimbals use an external heading source to estimate the geo-location of the target,” stated UAV Factory CEO Konstantins Popiks. “Onboard the unmanned aircraft, the attitude data is usually supplied by an autopilot. The estimate accuracy is imprecise due to the nature of low-cost sensors used in miniature autopilots. Miniature autopilots simply do not need the precise heading data required by the gimbal. As a result, the heading error generates large geo-location errors and provides little to no use for the unmanned aircraft operator. Additional errors occur due to misalignment of the gimbal and autopilot; these are separate subsystems mounted in different locations on individual soft vibration mounts.”
For the Geo-Lock feature to work, a highly accurate external GPS/INS needed to be integrated into the system.
“Today the state-of-the-art miniature gyro-stabilized gimbals have a narrow field of view of less than 1.3 degrees,” said Popiks. “Therefore, pointing accuracy should be significantly better than 1.3° to prevent the target pointing location from going out of frame.”
In order to guarantee the successful implementation of the Precision Geo-Lock feature, UAV Factory partnered with VectorNav Technologies. VectorNav develops and manufactures high performance inertial navigation systems using the latest in MEMS sensor and GPS/GNSS technology.
“VectorNav’s VN-200 was the only product on the market that offered a high-level of performance but small enough form factor for direct integration into the optical bench of the gimbal” said Popiks. “When the product delivered that level of accuracy despite the high vibrations, accelerations and temperature fluctuations of our application the choice was obvious.”
UAV Factory’s Precision Geo-Lock provides better than 0.3 degree accuracy and is ‘Plug-and-Play’. This allows the customer to install the Epsilon gimbal and get accurate results on any platform and in a high-vibration environment.
Epsilon gyro-stabilized turrets will be available with VN-200 single GPS-based INS solution, as well as the VN-300 dual GPS-based INS. A single GPS/INS solution is suitable for dynamic platforms such as manned and unmanned aircraft. Dual GPS/INS is a necessity for platforms with low dynamics, such as aerostats, ships and helicopters.
You can shop VectorNav’s entire line of sensors at Unmanned Systems Source.