Inertial navigation systems for mobile robots
A low-cost solid-state inertial navigation system (INS) for mobile robotics applications is described. Error models for the inertial sensors are generated and included in an Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) for estimating the position and orientation of a moving robot vehicle. Two Merent solid-state gyroscopes have been evaluated for estimating the orientation of the robot. Performance of the gyroscopes with error models is compared to the performance when the error models are excluded from the system. The results demonstrate that without error compensation, the error in orientation is between 5-15"/min but can be improved at least by a factor of 5 if an adequate error model is supplied. Siar error models have been developed for each axis of a solid-state triaxial accelerometer and for a conducting-bubble tilt sensor which may also be used as a low-cost accelerometer. Linear position estimation with information from accelerometers and tilt sensors is more susceptible to errors due to the double integration process involved in estimating position. With the system described here, the position drift rate is 1-8 cds, depending on the frequency of acceleration changes. An integrated inertial platform consisting of three gyroscopes, a triaxial accelerometer and two tilt sensors is described. Results from tests of this platform on a large outdoor mobile robot system are described and compared to the results obtained from the robot's own radar-based guidance system. Like all inertial systems, the platform requires additional information from some absolute position-sensing mechanism to overcome long-term drift. However, the results show that with careful and detailed modeling of error sources, low-cost inertial sensing systems can provide valuable orientation and position information particularly for outdoor mobile robot applications.