Electro-optical surveillance and reconnaissance systems are frequently mounted on unstable or vibrating platforms such as ships, vehicles, aircraft and masts. Mechanical coupling between the platform and the cameras leads to angular vibration of the line of sight. Image motion during detector and eye integration times leads to image smear and a resulting loss of resolution. Additional effects are wavy images for detectors based on a rolling shutter mechanism and annoying movement of the image at low frequencies. A good stabilization system should yield sub-pixel stabilization errors and meet cost and size requirements.
There are two main families of LOS stabilization methods: opto-mechanical stabilization and electronic stabilization. Each family, or a combination of both, can be implemented by a number of different techniques of varying complexity, size and cost leading to different levels of stabilization. Opto-mechanical stabilization is typically based on gyro readings, whereas electronic stabilization is typically based on gyro readings or image registration calculations. A few common stabilization techniques, as well as options for different gimbal arrangements will be described and analyzed. The relative merits and drawbacks of the different techniques and their applicability to specific systems and environments will be discussed.
Over the years Controp has developed a large number of stabilized electro-optical payloads. A few examples of payloads with unique stabilization mechanisms will be described.