Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Electronic compass for highly reliable navigation and orientation

An Italian SME has recently developed an electronic compass that offers enhanced measurement and operating performance even under very critical environmental conditions.
Electronic compass for highly reliable navigation and orientation
The newly developed compass determines geographic directions through measuring the angle in relation to the magnetic poles of the Earth. The basic principle underneath this, is measuring the two orthogonal constituents of the magnetic field of the Earth. The device features increased angular resolution (up to 0.01degrees), which is not affected by oscillations coming from rolling and pitching.

However, the invariability in angular resolution of measurements in whichever geographical length or width they are performed imposes two key requirements. First, the highest possible sensitivity - the smallest angle to be recorded with respect to the Earth's magnetic pole. Second, for achieving the same sensitivity extremely broad operating dynamics are needed to cover the wide range of changing conditions of the Earth's magnetic field, e.g. close to magnetic poles or to local distortions of the geomagnetic field.

This highly advanced compass comprises a bi-axial flux-gate sensor with a toroidal core, a sensor signal conditioning module and a mechanical system for compensating for oscillations on sensor measurement. The sensor includes a toroidal core in amorphous ferromagnetic material, a toroidal coil around the ring circumference and two housings one for the toroidal core and one for the first housing both covered with a layer of orthogonally-arranged coils. A gimbal mount with traditional type design or a solid-state type design allows the mechanical system to move or incline freely in all directions.

Unlike other similar products, this innovation features a more enhanced measurement performance in terms of sensitivity, precision, thermal stability and reliability. An already made provision for its integration with the GPS system is expected to improve its performance with regards to the angular resolution and operating angular interval without increasing production costs and complexity. This technology is ideally suited for maritime and aircraft navigation as well as for pointing apparatuses, such as those used for the orientation of astrophysics observation platforms.
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