31 May 2013 Gimbal system configurations and line-of-sight control techniques for small UAV applications
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Abstract
The proliferation of small Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) in the past decade has been driven, in part, by the diverse applications that various industries have found for these platforms. Originally, these applications were predominately military in nature but now include law enforcement/security, environmental monitoring/remote sensing, agricultural surveying, movie making and others. Many of these require sensors/payloads such as cameras, laser pointers/ illuminators/rangefinders and other systems that must be pointed and/or stabilized and therefore require a precision miniature gimbal or other means to control their line-of-sight (LOS). Until now, these markets have been served by traditional/larger gimbals; however, the latest class of small UAVs demands much smaller gimbals while maintaining high-performance. The limited size and weight of these gimbaled devices result in design challenges unique to the small-gimbal design field. In the past five years, Ascendant Engineering Solutions has engaged in designing, analyzing and building several small-gimbal systems to meet these challenges and has undertaken a number of trade studies to investigate techniques to achieve optimal performance within the inherent limitations mentioned above. These have included investigating various gimbal configurations, feedback sensors such as gyros, IMUs and encoders, drive train configurations, control system techniques, packaging and interconnect, as well as technology such as fast-steering mirrors and image-stabilization algorithms. This paper summarizes the results of these trade studies, attempts to identify inherent trends and limitations in the various design approaches and techniques, and discusses some practical issues such as test and verification.
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Rick Miller, Greg Mooty, J. M. Hilkert, "Gimbal system configurations and line-of-sight control techniques for small UAV applications", Proc. SPIE 8713, Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) Systems and Applications X, 871308 (31 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2015777; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2015777
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