Sensor selection. Inertial Measurement Unit.

Sensor Selection: A Technical Overview

Last Updated: June 2023

When choosing a positioning sensor, engineers and developers often face the question, “How can I choose a sensor?” While the required specifications are usually known, the abundance of options can make the selection process daunting. This guide will explore various positioning sensors, their capabilities, and their suitability for different applications.


Understanding Your Data Needs


Before delving into the specifics of each sensor, it’s crucial to identify the type of data or information you require from the sensor. You are helping narrow the options and choose the most suitable sensor for your application and making it easier on the sensor selection task. Let’s examine the different data requirements and their corresponding sensors.

  1. Raw Data: The IMU is an excellent choice if your primary requirement is raw data, including temperature, 3D acceleration, 3D magnetic field, and 3D turn rate. This sensor provides raw calibrated data, making it ideal for measuring motion applications. However, it’s important to note that using this sensor for motion measurement requires implementing filters on your platform or solution.
  2. Orientation Data: The AHRS sensor is ideal for applications that demand orientation data, such as robotic arms or lawnmowers. In addition to providing the functionalities of the IMU, the AHRS sensor offers roll, pitch, and yaw data. By employing sophisticated algorithms, this positioning sensor fuses raw data from the IMU with the Earth’s gravity to provide accurate orientation information.
  3. Extreme Accuracy: When utmost accuracy is crucial, the Inertial Navigation System (INS) module emerges as the preferred option. This module combines the IMU and AHRS sensors’ capabilities with the Kalman Filter’s added benefit. By integrating data from GPS, the INS module delivers precise location information. This fusion of sensor data enables the maintenance of position while significantly enhancing location accuracy, making it an excellent choice for drones or small mobile robots.
  4. Extreme Accuracy with Real-Time Kinematics (RTK): For applications that demand even higher levels of accuracy, Inertial Labs offers the INS with the additional functionality of Real-Time Kinematics (RTK). This combination, INS + RTK, provides ‘extreme accuracy’ by delivering positions within a mere 3cm. This sensor is perfect for high-accuracy drones, autopilot applications, and mobile robots by incorporating satellite corrections. The provided data includes GNSS/GPS-based latitude, longitude, altitude, real-time RTK, and GNSS/GPS-based 3D acceleration.
  5. Dual Compassing: If the INS + RTK sensor is the perfect fit for your application but requires a second antenna for improved performance, the Dual Compassing GNSS-INS is the answer. This sensor combines the functionalities of the IMU, AHRS, and INS + RTK, along with a dual antenna system for enhanced heading data. This feature becomes particularly valuable in scenarios where electromagnetic interference, such as radar/antenna pointing applications, could skew the data.

Considering Ruggedness


Before finalizing your sensor selection, evaluating whether ruggedness is required for your application is essential. Inertial Labs offers ruggedized versions of the following positioning sensors: IMU, AHRS, and INS Dual GNSS Compass. These rugged sensors come encased in robust aluminum enclosures, protecting against challenging environmental conditions. They are well-suited for outdoor applications such as autopilot systems, mining operations, and powerline inspections. By answering the critical questions outlined in this guide, you can confidently determine which sensor is most suitable for your application.

When choosing the suitable sensor for your application, Inertial Labs has a range of options that can meet your specific requirements. Inertial Labs’ sensors are known for their high-quality construction, precision, and reliability. They offer a wide range of options, from compact and lightweight sensors to ruggedized versions for outdoor applications. Additionally, Inertial Labs provides comprehensive technical support and customization options to ensure you find the perfect sensor for your needs.

By selecting an Inertial Labs sensor, you can have confidence in the accuracy and performance of your chosen solution. Whether you’re an engineer or a developer, Inertial Labs has the suitable sensor to help you achieve your project goals with utmost precision and reliability. Whether you require raw data, orientation data, extreme accuracy, or ruggedness, Inertial Labs provides a range of positioning sensors to meet your specific needs. Make an informed decision and empower your engineering endeavors with the right sensor choice.

Inertial Labs have suitable sensors for your applications.

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For more information:

Anton Barabashov
VP of Business Development
Inertial Labs Inc.

For any additional questions, please email

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