Current state of the art inertial measurement units (IMUs) co-locate a set of accelerometers and gyroscopes into a single package. CU Aerospace (CUA), in partnership with the University of Illinois, propose the continued development of a scalable and distributed IMU (DSIMU) for space robotics and CubeSat applications. The user can deliberately choose a number of inertial sensors beyond the minimal number of sensors required for inertial navigation. This scalability enables both improved measurement resolution and system redundancy. The distributed nature of the system means that sensors can be placed arbitrarily by the user as needed in their design, under the constraint that each axis is measured by at least one accelerometer and gyroscope. This technology enables space-constrained systems to leverage redundant inertial sensors for fault detection and isolation (FDI), jitter on a spacecraft, and angular velocity without the use of gyroscopes. Beyond the systems engineering benefits of this system, distributing the sensors is grounded by previous research that suggests it will reduce the total noise of its output measurements and have important SWaP-C implications for space systems. This technology can potentially be used in most robotic systems currently using an inertial navigation system. However, the best applications of this technology are in space constrained robots that can benefit from accurate state estimates or fault tolerant systems. The primary Phase II technical objectives are to develop a Distributed Inertial Sensor Integration (DISI) Kit including flight-like DSIMU hardware and beta-software for delivery by the end of Phase II.
The distributed IMU technology will provide attitude and position estimates with accuracies not previously achievable without sacrificing significant additional volume and cost, thereby enabling new missions with strict requirements. Provides the volume and capability applicable to the emerging area of CubeSat robotics. Enables missions to areas where MEMS components are failure prone. Improved performance, efficient use of space, and fault tolerance also useful for robots aboard ISS and terrestrial rovers.
Can be used in most robotic systems currently using INS. Best applications of this technology are in space constrained robots that can benefit from accurate state estimates or fault tolerant systems, e.g. small robots for pipe inspection in natural gas industry. Scalable and distributed IMU architecture can be implemented in many wearable electronic devices for better pedestrian dead reckoning.