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Proceedings Paper

Aerial vehicle navigation over unknown terrain environments using inertial measurements and dual airborne laser scanners or flash LADAR
Author(s): Ananth K. Vadlamani; Maarten Uijt de Haag
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Paper Abstract

A precise navigation system for uninhabited or inhabited aerial vehicles is discussed in this paper. The navigational capability of an aerial vehicle must be robust and not easily influenced by external factors. Nowadays, many navigation systems rely somehow on the Global Positioning System (GPS), wherein the GPS signals may be rendered unusable due to unintentional interference caused by atmospheric effects, interference from communication equipment, as well as intentional jamming. The navigation method discussed in this paper integrates measurements from an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) with measurements from either two airborne laser scanners (ALS) or an airborne Flash LADAR (AFL) to provide autonomous navigational capability and a reliable alternative to GPS. The proposed system has applications in unknown or partially known terrain environments or it may also be used for autonomous landing systems in Lunar or Martian environments. Two approaches are described in this paper, one approach uses Dual Airborne Laser Scanners (DALS) (one pointing forward, the other pointing aft) and the other approach uses an AFL. Advantages and disadvantages of both approaches are discussed. The proposed navigation system uses strapdown IMU measurements to estimate the aerial vehicle position and attitude and to geo-reference the laser sensor data. It then uses the maps created from both the fore and aftpointing scanning LADARS or the consecutive Flash LADAR range-images to estimate systematic IMU errors such as position and velocity drifts. The proposed navigation algorithm is evaluated using flight test data from Ohio University's DC3 aircraft and synthesized ALS and AFL measurements. Initial results are observed to achieve meter level accuracies in the system's position drift performance.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 May 2007
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6550, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XII, 65500B (4 May 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.718946
Show Author Affiliations
Ananth K. Vadlamani, Ohio Univ. (United States)
Maarten Uijt de Haag, Ohio Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6550:
Laser Radar Technology and Applications XII
Monte D. Turner; Gary W. Kamerman, Editor(s)

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