Many surveying engineering applications require the knowledge of the orientation parameters of instruments. One can use inertial measurement units (IMUs) to determine that. IMUs are combinations of several inertial sensors and comprise at least an accelerometer and a gyroscope. Therefore, they can detect accelerations and angular rates in a three-dimensional space. As micro-electro-mechanical systems, the sensors are increasingly getting smaller and lighter, but without being reduced in their accuracy. The smaller size facilitates diverse placing of the sensors, which allows a variety of uses. Moreover, several low-cost IMUs have been devised since the development of single-board computers.
The main objectives of this work are to determine tilts using a low-cost IMU, and the accuracy of the sensor. Furthermore, it studies general IMU applications in surveying engineering, and examines whether low-cost versions are applicable.
To fulfil the objectives, the study was based on a selected low-cost IMU. Two programs were developed as part of this work. One was to control the sensor and the other, to calculate the tilts and analyse the data. The IMU was mounted in front of the objective of the total station and aligned in different reference orientations. All measurements were performed under controlled thermal conditions. Thereby, it was ensured that no falsifications could appear due to ambient temperature influences. As a first step, the sensor calibration process was completed. It helped determine the signal offset parameter and their time-dependent change. The calibration was done using two present methods, the six-position and the multi-position methods. The calibrated IMU helped determine the tilts. This was done in the case of the accelerometer via trigonometric functions, which allowed an absolute orientation statement. In contrast, the gyroscope provided relative orientation with the multiplication of the detected angular variance and the time that passed. After that, a target-actual comparison with the reference information of the total station helped determine the external accuracy of the tilt from the IMU. Moreover, multiple measurements could give a statement of the internal accuracy. Finally, the Kalman Filter was added to smooth out the sensor data and combine it in real-time.
The calibration methods showed similar results, and it was striking that the sensors did not show the expected drifts. The reason could be related to a pre-calibration by the manufacturer. On the one hand, the used IMU showed differences in the total station alignments in the order of 0.798° for the accelerometer and up to 4.3° for the gyroscope with the calibrated data. On the other, the differences in repeated measurements were at 0.024° for the accelerometer and 0.5° for the gyroscope.
It was figured out different possible applications of IMUs in surveying engineering. Among other things, these included orientation monitoring of sensor platforms or the determination of the external orientation of unmanned aerial systems. For these applications, the usability depends on the achievable accuracy. In the case of the IMU chosen in this study, the proven accuracy is too inaccurate for these applications.
There is a need for further investigation because the use of another sensor type may rectify the insufficient accuracy problem. Moreover, to achieve better accuracies and to make it possible to use the IMU in different ambient temperatures, the temperature influence must be determined.
2016. , x+31+appendixes p.
tilt sensing, low-cost, inertial measurement unit, accelerometer, gyroscope, calibration, accuracy