Performance of a MEMS IMU for Localizing a Seaglider AUV on an Acoustic Tracking Range

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A Seaglider instrumented with an inertial attitude and heading reference system was tracked for three days on an acoustic tracking range in Dabob Bay, Washington, operated by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Keyport, WA, USA. Inertial measurements were integrated to yield estimates of position and compared with tracked positions. Within 3 min, the integrated positioning results deviated from tracked positions by more than a kilometer. The addition of a depth constraint from pressure sensor measurements slowed the error growth over time, but even with this constraint, measurements were too noisy to accurately determine position without aid from additional sensors. Inertial data did contribute to accurate localization when used to estimate vehicle attitude and incorporated into an existing flight model; however, results did not demonstrate marked improvement over existing flight models. Although not a decisive demonstration of vehicle positioning with a standalone low-cost, low-power sensor, the results presented here provide a benchmark for comparison as MEMS inertial sensors continue to evolve using a valuable ground-truth of subsea Seaglider position not previously available.

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IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering