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On the Design of Attitude-Heading Reference Systems Using the Allan Variance

Javier Hidalgo Carrió; Sascha Arnold; Pantelis Poulakis
In: IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, Vol. 63, Pages 656-665, 4/2016.


The Allan variance is a method to characterize stochastic random processes. The technique was originally developed to characterize the stability of atomic clocks and has also been successfully applied to the characterization of inertial sensors. Inertial navigation systems (INS) can provide accurate results in a short time, which tend to rapidly degrade in longer time intervals. During the last decade, the performance of inertial sensors has significantly improved, particularly in terms of signal stability, mechanical robustness, and power consumption. The mass and volume of inertial sensors have also been significantly reduced, offering system-level design and accommodation advantages. This paper presents a complete methodology for the characterization and modeling of inertial sensors using the Allan variance, with direct application to navigation systems. Although the concept of sensor fusion is relatively straightforward, accurate characterization and sensor-information filtering is not a trivial task, yet they are essential for good performance. A complete and reproducible methodology utilizing the Allan variance, including all the intermediate steps, is described. An end-to-end (E2E) process for sensor-error characterization and modeling up to the final integration in the sensor-fusion scheme is explained in detail. The strength of this approach is demonstrated with representative tests on novel, high-grade inertial sensors. Experimental navigation results are presented from two distinct robotic applications: a planetary exploration rover prototype and an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).


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