Exploring our planet's oceans is a tradition that goes back centuries. Humans have an intrinsic curiosity that is fueled by a desire to learn about our surroundings. Motivated by this desire, we have continued to make advancements in marine navigation technology that has enabled us to explore the unknown reaches of the planet's waters. To accomplish this feat, our ancestors used the natural tools given to them like the stars. From there, celestial navigation developed and devices such as the gnomon, kamal, sea astrolabe, quadrant, cross-staff, and sextant were created. By increasing our ability to go further out into the unknown waters, these ancient navigation devices paved the way for marine navigation technology to develop. These developments, in turn, fostered inventions that were thought to be mere fantasy and allowed humans to grow in their understanding of the Earth. That unsatisfied curiosity continued to live in our hearts and minds leading up to 1957 when the first autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) was developed by the applied physics laboratory at the University of Washington by Stan Murphy, Bob Francois, and Terry Ewart. The early AUVs were used for research purposes such as the study of underwater diffusion, acoustic transmission, and submarine wake.
Autonomous Vehicles have long been viewed as the logical next monumental breakthrough in engineering. A fantastical feat that has been depicted throughout Hollywood and analyzed by many journals; autonomous vehicles are one of the most highly scrutinized potential breakthroughs of this decade. There are 6 levels of autonomy which represent a progressive pathway to level 5 – full autonomy. So, this begs the questions: How long until we reach complete autonomy? What level of autonomy are we at now? And how is it accomplished? First, let’s get a clear picture of what each level of autonomy entails.
Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors are a commonly used source of optical information for remote sensing payloads in scanning and surveying applications. LiDAR payloads use penetrating pulses of laser light that are reflected and used to determine relative distance to the point that it reflected from. When these pulses backscatter (reflect at an angle of 180 degrees), many payloads will use inertial navigation systems (INS) to timestamp and georeference data points that are acquired. Compiled together, these individual data points paired with point cloud software streamline the process for analyzing structures and ground planes.
Affordable and Hassle-Free Solutions for Obsolete Sensors
Companies that adopted the first microelectromechanical (MEMS) accelerometers and inertial measurement sensors in the 1990s have struggled to find affordable solutions to replace sensors that have been discontinued due to the advent of newer technologies. Although the newer generations of sensors feature exponential performance improvements and are available at a drastically reduced cost, they often are not configured to work with existing software, interfaces, or housing. However, with MEMS devices now being able to compete with many fiber-optic systems, a new market is on the rise for replacing dated sensors that may or may not be commercially available anymore. Inertial Labs offers options to customize sensors so that customers don’t need to invest time to make them fit into existing systems