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New microsensors will allow better automatic movement control

New inertial microsensors will allow more accurate control of position and movement for astronauts, pilots, deep-sea divers, oil exploration teams and even crash test dummies. The new sensors, called accelerometers, are being brought to the market by partners from Germany, Fin...
New inertial microsensors will allow more accurate control of position and movement for astronauts, pilots, deep-sea divers, oil exploration teams and even crash test dummies. The new sensors, called accelerometers, are being brought to the market by partners from Germany, Finland and Austria, with support from the EU's INNOVATION programme.

The accelerometers measure the rate of change in velocity, producing an electronic signal which can be measured or used to control a process. Applications could include the activation mechanisms of seat belts and air bags in cars, where the accelerometer senses sudden deceleration and causes the safety devices to engage.

However, until now, accelerometers have been limited in accuracy, limiting their uses in navigation systems. The new accelerometers developed by this consortium work using closed loop inertial microsensors. Continuous electrical feedback from the signal output to the sensor probe exactly balances the incoming mechanical forces, therefore eliminating inaccuracies and allowing the detection of the tiniest changes. Because of their much greater precision, in comparison to traditional accelerometers, these accelerometers may realistically be considered for use in navigation systems.

The consortium, which was brought together with support form the North German Innovation Relay Centre, VDI/VDE-IT, aims to manufacture a robust microsensor with a wide measurement range and better accuracy than existing equipment. In addition, it will reduce Europe's dependence on non-European suppliers of these components. The first application of the new accelerometers will be in crash test dummies, where the movement of the head will be tracked more accurately than using high speed cameras as at present. If this proves successful, then the product will have an influence on all forms of navigation systems.

Source: European Commission, DG XIII

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