GPS-Aided Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) for Remote Sensing

Posted by Will Dillingham on Jan 25, 2020 8:15:37 AM
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Evolution of Remote Sensing

Old Remote SensingRemote sensing emerged more than 150 years ago, as balloonists took pictures of the ground using the recently invented photo cameras in the 1840s. Perhaps the most memorable breakthrough in the field at the end of the 19th century was the famous fleet of pigeons that operated as innovation in Europe, taking pictures with cameras attached to their bodies. By the First World War, cameras mounted on airplanes provided aerial views of vast surface areas that proved to be invaluable in military reconnaissance. The aerial photograph remained the single standard tool for imaging the surface up until the early 1960s.


The latest progress in laser and microprocessor technologies have ignited an emerging generation of affordable and compact mapping solutions which are being employed by a number of businesses across industries including construction, agriculture, surveying, mining, and more. Nowadays remote sensing is performed on various moving bases including cars, drones and on robots like LS3 by Boston Dynamics. Automakers rushing to come up with the most efficient self-driving cars encourage to employ remote sensing technologies as never before.

Area Mapping

Area mapping

Perhaps area mapping is still the biggest domain for remote sensing. Making sense of the physical world by analyzing maps and 3D models allows businesses to make faster and more informed decisions that increase efficiency, profit and more importantly, improve safety. Few of the most often used bases it can be done on are a land vehicle or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Both options come with their own pros and cons.

Choose the Right Drone


Multirotor vs Fixed-Wing

Even though a land vehicle is able to cover vast areas, a disadvantage is there are many places to be mapped have impassable surfaces, like jungles or rocky mountains. With prices for UAVs going down, it’s no surprise that drone use is on the rise as an alternative for capturing aerial data and to generate accurate 3D models of surroundings.



Importance of Precision Point Cloud

Precision Point Cloud Scan #1

Accurate precision point clouds are the most critical aspect of remote sensing. Reaching maximum accuracy for point clouds over the minimum scans is an ultimate goal. The key requirement is the reliability of gathering data and raw data accuracy. Depending on nature of your business you may need data transmitted in real-time, or need it recorded for post processing. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide which approach is best for your business needs. In the case of real time data processing, you sacrifice accuracy. Highly accurate real time data processing is possible, though there is more chance for errors and the accuracy will always be worse than post processing the data. Generally, accuracy is expected to be poorer when using real time methods and the accuracy requirements of the project will dictate whether real time methods can be used. When precision is the topmost priority, post processing is the method to use.


Post-Processing Software

Inertial Explorer

If your resources are invested in post processing, then you can slightly sacrifice point cloud accuracy while gathering data. There are several powerful software packages designed for post processing to compensate for lost points by extrapolating some amount of data. One example of such is Inertial Explorer®(1) developed by NovAtel Inc. Waypoint Products Group. It’s a Windows-based suite of programs that provide GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and inertial data post-processing. It may come preconfigured with aerial, land vehicle and marine processing profiles that help new customers get started quickly.



LiDAR General Specification Sometimes called 3D laser scanner, LiDAR is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. It has terrestrial, airborne, and mobile applications. Some models of 3D LiDAR are able to generate up to 700,000 data points per second, There are plenty of exceptional producers on the market, for example Quanergy®(2) and Velodyne®.



Based on cost-effective MEMS technology, the Inertial Labs Single and Dual Antenna GPS-Aided INS is a new generation of fully-integrated, high-performance strapdown systems. Inertial Labs GPS-Aided INS utilizes a GNSS receiver produced by NovAtel®, barometer, 3-axes each of temperature calibrated precision, tactical grade Accelerometers, and Gyroscopes to provide accurate orientation. Inertial Labs GPS-Aided INS contains new on-board sensor fusion filter, state of the art navigation and guidance algorithms, and calibration software.

Single GNSS antenna INS for post-processing kinematics (PPK)



Dual GNSS antenna INS for real time kinematics (RTK)


Depending on specific needs, the GPS-Aided INS comes within different parameters to match your business goals in the most efficient way. A wide spectrum of options are available in the INS-B product line. Inertial Labs has got you covered. Inertial Labs possesses experience in delivering not just GPSAided INS, but also the complete payload (Remote Sensing Payload Instrument – RESEPI.)


Test Results


Mapping Results

INS Model: INS-B
Flying Platform: DJI Matrice 600 Pro
GNSS Receiver: NovAtel® OEM-7
Types of IMU: 1°/h, Tactical Grade
Post-Processed: Inertial Explorer® software


INS-B Test Results



To Sum UpAerial Photo

The major goal in remote sensing is to pick right set of core elements, to integrate them into a solution and as a result, to achieve desired precision point cloud. Last but not least, all must be done within the shortest period of time and at the lowest price, so not to exceed the budget.

Set of core elements for remote sensing are the same whether it’s a solution for surveying power line corridor, pipeline inspection, precision agriculture etc. While there are plenty of products on the market to choose from, the roadmap to a successful outcome goes through several critical points:

Remote Sensing Critical Points

Remote Sensing has an increasing  significance in the modern society. Data for civil, research, and military purposes is being gathered and processed for better decision making. Photogrammetry, area mapping, surveying, inspection, and reporting are just few examples of remote sensing applications. According to Market Research Future Analysis, global remote sensing technology market has been valued at approximately $18 Billion by the end of forecast period, from 2018 to 2023.

(1) Inertial Explorer® is a registered trademark of NovAtel Inc, Waypoint Products Group.
(2) Velodyne® is a registered trademark of Velodyne LiDAR, Inc.
** LiDAR USA® is a registered trademark of Fagerman Technologies Inc


Topics: GPS-Aided Navigation, Mapping, Remote Sensing