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Proceedings Paper

Development of a GPS/INS/MAG navigation system and waypoint navigator for a VTOL UAV
Author(s): Oliver Meister; Ralf Mönikes; Jan Wendel; Natalie Frietsch; Christian Schlaile; Gert F. Trommer
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Paper Abstract

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) can be used for versatile surveillance and reconnaissance missions. If a UAV is capable of flying automatically on a predefined path the range of possible applications is widened significantly. This paper addresses the development of the integrated GPS/INS/MAG navigation system and a waypoint navigator for a small vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned four-rotor helicopter with a take-off weight below 1 kg. The core of the navigation system consists of low cost inertial sensors which are continuously aided with GPS, magnetometer compass, and a barometric height information. Due to the fact, that the yaw angle becomes unobservable during hovering flight, the integration with a magnetic compass is mandatory. This integration must be robust with respect to errors caused by the terrestrial magnetic field deviation and interferences from surrounding electronic devices as well as ferrite metals. The described integration concept with a Kalman filter overcomes the problem that erroneous magnetic measurements yield to an attitude error in the roll and pitch axis. The algorithm provides long-term stable navigation information even during GPS outages which is mandatory for the flight control of the UAV. In the second part of the paper the guidance algorithms are discussed in detail. These algorithms allow the UAV to operate in a semi-autonomous mode position hold as well an complete autonomous waypoint mode. In the position hold mode the helicopter maintains its position regardless of wind disturbances which ease the pilot job during hold-and-stare missions. The autonomous waypoint navigator enable the flight outside the range of vision and beyond the range of the radio link. Flight test results of the implemented modes of operation are shown.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 May 2007
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 6561, Unmanned Systems Technology IX, 65611D (2 May 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.718623
Show Author Affiliations
Oliver Meister, Univ. of Karlsruhe (Germany)
Ralf Mönikes, Univ. of Karlsruhe (Germany)
Jan Wendel, Univ. of Karlsruhe (Germany)
Natalie Frietsch, Univ. of Karlsruhe (Germany)
Christian Schlaile, Univ. of Karlsruhe (Germany)
Gert F. Trommer, Univ. of Karlsruhe (Germany)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6561:
Unmanned Systems Technology IX
Grant R. Gerhart; Douglas W. Gage; Charles M. Shoemaker, Editor(s)

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