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An Application of UAV Attitude Estimation Using a Low-Cost Inertial Navigation SystemUnmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are playing an increasing role in aviation. Various methods exist for the computation of UAV attitude based on low cost microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. There has been a recent increase in UAV autonomy as sensors are becoming more compact and onboard processing power has increased significantly. Correct UAV attitude estimation will play a critical role in navigation and separation assurance as UAVs share airspace with civil air traffic. This paper describes attitude estimation derived by post-processing data from a small low cost Inertial Navigation System (INS) recorded during the flight of a subscale commercial off the shelf (COTS) UAV. Two discrete time attitude estimation schemes are presented here in detail. The first is an adaptation of the Kalman Filter to accommodate nonlinear systems, the Extended Kalman Filter (EKF). The EKF returns quaternion estimates of the UAV attitude based on MEMS gyro, magnetometer, accelerometer, and pitot tube inputs. The second scheme is the complementary filter which is a simpler algorithm that splits the sensor frequency spectrum based on noise characteristics. The necessity to correct both filters for gravity measurement errors during turning maneuvers is demonstrated. It is shown that the proposed algorithms may be used to estimate UAV attitude. The effects of vibration on sensor measurements are discussed. Heuristic tuning comments pertaining to sensor filtering and gain selection to achieve acceptable performance during flight are given. Comparisons of attitude estimation performance are made between the EKF and the complementary filter.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Eure, Kenneth W.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Quach, Cuong Chi
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Vazquez, Sixto L.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Hogge, Edward F.
(Northrop Grumman Technical Services Hampton, VA, United States)
Hill, Boyd L.
(Analytical Mechanics Associates, Inc. Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
March 27, 2014
Publication Date
December 1, 2013
Subject Category
Air Transportation And Safety
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 534723.02.05.07
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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