Pixhawk Integration Custom Solutions, an Open Source Flight Controller, is looking to develop an autopilot platform capable of extended flight in a GNSS-denied environment for search and rescue missions.
The Resulting Product
We proudly announce the new Pixhawk 2.1 integration with Inertial Labs’ INS-P. Operating on the Ardupilot firmware, this completely open-source autopilot solution can be fully customized for use across various applications in addition to search and rescue adaptations.
SWARM Flight Control
Disaster response and mitigation is an increasingly thriving market for autopilots and, of course, the application for which Inertial Labs developed this integration. Whether the mission is fighting forest fires or identifying and responding to personnel in critical condition, the Pixhawk Autopilot can handle extended mission profiles. It can be mounted to carrier platforms to carry large payloads even in a GNSS-denied environment.
Logging data and performing preconfigured flight maneuvers is critical whether the solution gets used for Remote Sensing or Bathymetric surveys.
Many warehouse operations rely on low-cost autonomous navigation solutions. Organizing customer shipments and relocating incoming and outgoing packages can easily be streamlined using unmanned ground vehicles.
Optionally configurable with additional infrared, thermal, or HD RGB cameras, the Pixhawk Autopilot can monitor and recognize vehicles and people from several kilometers away.
Extensive Features and Usability
The Pixhawk Autopilot is a robust navigation solution for unmanned aerial vehicles featuring top-of-the-line, unparalleled options. Some features include the usability of peripherals, companion computers, and radio controllers.
Long-Range Communication Capabilities
Enhanced communications make the Pixhawk Autopilot a standout solution whether users need line of sight (LOS) or beyond line of site (BLOS) functionality.
The embedded LOS module transmits communication on the 400 and 900 MHz frequencies for typical operations.
A highly accurate navigational solution, the Pixhawk Autopilot integration with the INS-P allows precision navigation whether or not a GNSS connection is available. And, although out-of-the-box, the autopilot is sufficiently robust for most users, it is effortless to customize to your specific needs.
Working with firmware solutions such as Ardupilot makes customization of this flight controller even easier.
The Ardupilot platform allows for many aiding data features to be input into the Ardupilot Kalman Filter to help for a more robust navigation solution. Options include airspeed sensors, optical flow sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and many more. These additional tools allow the user to create custom collision avoidance and object tracking solutions with enhanced navigational accuracy from the Inertial Labs INS-P.
Works with Aiding Sensor Data
Using “Mission Planner” or “QGroundControl” software options, users can configure the Ardupilot firmware to work with additional aiding sensors supported by Pixhawk, including airspeed sensors and cameras, radio transmitters, and more. Additionally, these programs allow the creation of preconfigured way-point maps, which enable UAVs to fly autonomously from point to point.
Inertial Labs’ accurate sensing components and robust Kalman Filter contribute to high performance in a GNSS-denied environment. The INS-P’s fluxgate magnetometer and tactical grade IMU get manufactured and temperature calibrated in-house. The Kalman filter identifies and filters the best data from each sensor, depending on GNSS availability.
The resulting Pixhawk Autopilot integration benefits from our data fusion expertise. The algorithm can adequately manage and fuse data from magnetic field data, inertial data from MEMS-based gyroscopes and accelerometers, and GNSS data.
The Ardupilot firmware then instructs the autopilot on using the combined information to output flight data for UAVs to ensure optimal positioning and flight performance for various aerial platforms.
The INS-P is connected to the Pixhawk Autopilot using the standard RS-232 serial interface. The resulting integration fuses IMU and GNSS data from the INS-P and uses it in the Ardupilot Kalman Filter on the Pixhawk. This data from the Inertial Labs INS-P includes necessary navigation data such as position, velocity, and a time stamp. In turn, this data fuses with Pixhawk Autopilot sensor data, which includes:
- Optional Static and Dynamic Pressure sensors for calculating Airspeed;
- Magnetometer for Aiding in Course Correction;
- Triple Redundant IMU with multiple gyroscopes, barometers, and accelerometers;
- Optional additional GNSS receivers for dual antenna heading calculation;
- Optional camera inputs for detection, recognition, and tracking.
Navigation in GPS-Denied Environments
There are many reasons that users may need to operate when GPS is unavailable, regardless of whether the outage is due to terrain, spoofing/jamming, or something else. During an hour-long GNSS outage, horizontal position drift for the Pixhawk Autopilot integration tops out at an estimated nine nautical miles (NM).
Although there are other alternatives, including a standard ring laser gyro-based navigation system with similar results, the Pixhawk Autopilot integration solution comes in at one-third of the cost, offering a far better price-performance ratio with the enhanced benefit of customization.
With over 20 years as a leader in navigation solutions, Inertial Labs offers robust navigation solutions for various applications that allow users to input aiding data from other sensing components into our powerful Kalman Filter.
Our Pixhawk Autopilot integration with the INS-P allows end users to increase system and navigational performance by using existing aiding data sources, including airspeed sensors and attitude data (heading, pitch, or roll), wind speed sensors, doppler velocity logs, external altitude information. This integration is just another one of the many ways Inertial Labs continues to improve and enhance the autonomous community.