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Real-time single-frequency GPS/MEMS-IMU attitude determination of lightweight UAVs.

ABSTRACT

In this paper, a newly-developed direct georeferencing system for the guidance, navigation and control of lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), having a weight limit of 5 kg and a size limit of 1.5 m, and for UAV-based surveying and remote sensing applications is presented. The system is intended to provide highly accurate positions and attitudes (better than 5 cm and 0.5°) in real time, using lightweight components. The main focus of this paper is on the attitude determination with the system. This attitude determination is based on an onboard single-frequency GPS baseline, MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) inertial sensor readings, magnetic field observations and a 3D position measurement. All of this information is integrated in a sixteen-state error space Kalman filter. Special attention in the algorithm development is paid to the carrier phase ambiguity resolution of the single-frequency GPS baseline observations. We aim at a reliable and instantaneous ambiguity resolution, since the system is used in urban areas, where frequent losses of the GPS signal lock occur and the GPS measurement conditions are challenging. Flight tests and a comparison to a navigation-grade inertial navigation system illustrate the performance of the developed system in dynamic situations. Evaluations show that the accuracies of the system are 0.05° for the roll and the pitch angle and 0.2° for the yaw angle. The ambiguities of the single-frequency GPS baseline can be resolved instantaneously in more than 90% of the cases.