Conventionally, there are two ways to determine the orientation angles of an object. One uses 3-axis accelerometers and 3-axis magnetic sensors, while the other one uses additional 3-axis gyroscopes to achieve a higher sensing accuracy than the first one. This paper presents a novel orientation estimation system that uses seven single-axis linear accelerometers and 3-axis magnetic sensors. These seven linear accelerometers are deployed in a way to form a "coplanar" gyro-free inertial measurement unit (IMU). As such, they can perform the integrated measurements of gravity force and angular velocity for the subsequent sensor fusion algorithms. With the information of the angular velocity, this novel design achieves a comparable performance with the one that includes 3-axis gyroscopes. The analysis of the system observability indicates that the angular velocity measurements can improve the observability of the angle estimation under certain circumstances. This result suggests the possibility of using fewer sensors in an orientation estimation system. Simulation results indicate that the proposed design achieve a sensing accuracy of 0.11°, 0.09°, and 0.2°for the roll, pitch, and yaw angle; this leads to the improvement of 540%, 632%, and 754% over the one that does not include the measurement of the angular velocity.
- Euler angles
- Gyro-free inertial measurement unit
- Sensor fusion
- System observability