Fundamentals of Inertial Navigation


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Inertial navigation systems (INS) are modern technologically sophisticated implementations of the age-old concept of dead reckoning. The basic philosophy is to begin with a knowledge of initial position, keep track of speed and direction, and thus be able to determine position continually as time progresses. Perhaps surprisingly, the rise of GNSS has actually expanded the need for inertial-based systems. Accelerometers and gyroscopes are the basic sensors utilized and since INS are essentially self-contained, they do not suffer from interference or unavailability that can affect radio-based systems such as GNSS. Furthermore, INS are highly complementary to GNSS since they provide high data rates, low data latencies and attitude-determination along with position and velocity. This lecture will start by highlighting the basic principles of operation of an inertial navigation system. We will focus initially on the concepts underlying the algorithms used to determine position, velocity and attitude from inertial sensor measurements. Key error characteristics will then be described as well such as the Schuler oscillation and vertical channel instability. We will also consider the impact of various sensor errors on system performance.