Development of an attitude heading reference system for an airship

Bijker, Johan (2006-12)

Thesis (MScEng (Electrical and Electronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


A real time attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) was successfully implemented for use on an airship. The AHRS was tested on board a small airship (blimp) with real data supplied from the inertial measurement unit and GPS receiver. The inertial measurement unit was built with lower grade sensors, resulting in significant reductions in component cost. To ensure accurate navigation results, the high rate inertial measurements were complemented with low rate GPS velocity and position updates in an extended Kalman filter configuration. A study was made of various Kalman filter configurations, especially the possibility of splitting a big Kalman filter into smaller Kalman filters. It was found that the best trade-off between accuracy and processing power was achieved by having two smaller Kalman filters running in sequence. The first extended Kalman filter estimates the attitude of the airship, while the second extended Kalman filter estimates the velocity and position of the airship. The two smaller Kalman filters were implemented on an onboard computer to provide real time estimates of the attitude, velocity and position of the airship.

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