An attitude estimation method is presented for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) powered by a piston engine which is the major source of vibration. Vibration of the engine significantly degrades the accuracy of the inertial measurement unit, especially for low-cost sensors that are based on micro electro-mechanical system. Therefore, a vibration model for a small UAV is proposed in order to examine the influence of vibration on attitude estimation with different sensors. The model is derived based on spectrum analysis with short-time Fourier transform. The vibration is compared with the drift of the gyroscope in order to examine the impact on attitude estimation. An attitude estimation method that fuses the gyroscopes and single antenna global positioning system (GPS) is proposed to mitigate the influence of engine vibration and gyroscope drift. The quaternion-based extended Kalman filter is implemented to fuse the sensors. This filter fuses the angular rates measured by the gyroscopes and the pseudo-attitude derived from the GPS velocity to estimate the attitude of the UAV. Simulations and experiment results indicate that the proposed method performs well both in short-term and long-term accuracy even though the gyroscopes are affected by drift and vibration noise, while the pseudo-attitude contains severe noise.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)