Inertial Navigation Systems: Differences Between Gyroscopic, Optical, and MEMS INSs

Inertial Navigation Systems: Differences Between Gyroscopic, Optical, and MEMS INSs

Inertial navigation systems (INS) are used in most navigation systems to determine the velocity, position, and orientation without using GPS or external technology. The system is self-contained and usually used in missiles and submarines. 

There are three types of inertial navigation systems- gyroscopic, optical, and Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) inertial navigation systems. Each has its strengths as well as its weaknesses.

Here are their differences.

  • The principle used: Gyroscopic INS uses a spinning mass to measure the body’s angular rotation rate while optical INS uses a laser to measure the body’s angular rotation rate. MEMS INS uses a combination of gyroscopes and accelerometers to measure the body’s angular rotation rate.
  • Accuracy: Gyroscopic INSs are the most accurate type of system. They use gyroscopes to measure the earth’s rotation and calculate an object’s position.

Optical inertial navigation systems are less accurate than gyroscopic systems. They use lasers to track the position of an object.

MEMS inertial navigation systems are the least accurate type of system. They use MEMS sensors to measure the acceleration of an object.

  • Sensors: Gyroscopic sensors are the most expensive type of sensor, followed by optical sensors and then MEMS sensors. This is because gyroscopic sensors require a lot of expensive machinery, while optical sensors only need a few costly components. MEMS sensors are the least expensive because they can be made using relatively inexpensive materials and processes.

Conclusion

While it may seem that all inertial navigation systems are the same, there are some differences between the three types of systems. The earlier you learn to differentiate the three INS systems, the better for you as a user!

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