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Monday, September 25, 2023

A Complete Guide to Inertial Navigation Systems (INS)


An Inertial Navigation System is one of the most important breakthroughs in modern navigational technology. INS laid the foundation for autonomous vehicles. It allows for far greater accuracy on the position of a vehicle and can mean life or death in a military engagement.

But what is an INS? How does it work, and what are its advantages over standard GPS? Read on for a complete guide to Inertial Navigation Systems!

What Is an Inertial Navigation System?

Inertial Navigational Systems (INS) are navigational systems that can calculate either relative or absolute positions. They are similar to a standard GPS, but they track the object’s current position relative to their last position. INS uses motion, rotation, and sometimes magnetic sensors to constantly calculate the position, velocity, and orientation of a vehicle.

INS uses a process known as dead reckoning, where you get information from a source and convert it into movement, which is added to the vehicle’s last known position. This gives the user their current location. INS is used most by the military, automotive, and aerospace industries.

How Does an Inertial Navigation System Work?

Inertial Navigation Systems estimate a value for linear acceleration and angular velocity for a vehicle. These values are integrated, which allows for the velocity vector and the body attitude to be calculated, then by integrating the velocity vector, the vehicle’s current position can be figured out. See here for more information on this!

Two separate parts make up an INS unit, the inertial measurement unit (IMU) and the navigational computer. The IMU is made up of the accelerometers and the gyroscopes that are used to measure linear acceleration and angular velocity. These IMUs contain three orthogonal rate-gyroscopes and three orthogonal accelerometers to measure these values in all three dimensions.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Inertial Navigation System?

An advantage of an INS is being able to provide the vehicle’s absolute position and attitude information to a platform. For example, when integrated with one of the Global Navigation Satellite Systems, such as GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, or BeiDou, an INS can offer faster calculation times This is very important to workers such as city or county surveyors.

A disadvantage to this is that the IMU itself does not have a GNSS receiver, so it may not be the most advantageous idea to integrate the two directly. In some situations, it would be better to have a discrete GNSS that is coupled with the platform instead of the INS. An example of this would be the user going through an area that has GNSS denial, or simply cannot get a clear picture of, so the INS will have to do the bulk of the positioning work.

Inertial Navigation Systems

Inertial Navigation Systems are an amazing technology that can do amazing things *now*. Think about what we can do with it when we can push this technology even further and higher!

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