A small, cheap and highly accurate gyroscope, developed at the University of Michigan, could help drones and autonomous vehicles keep on track without a GPS signal.
Most smartphones have gyroscopes to detect the orientation of the screen and assist figure out which way users are facing; however, their accuracy is weak. They’re the reason why telephones often incorrectly indicate which direction a user is facing during navigation.
It does not matter much to a human on the street or behind the wheel; however, a driverless vehicle might get lost rapidly with a loss of GPS signal. Inside their backup navigation systems, autonomous automobiles currently use high-performance gyroscopes that are bigger and much more costly.
Better backup navigation tools could further assist soldiers in discovering their route in regions where GPS signals are weak. Or in a more mundane scenario, accurate indoor navigation accelerates warehouse robots.
The gadget that enables navigation without a constant orienting signal is known as an inertial measurement unit. It is made up of three accelerometers and three gyroscopes, one for each axis in space. However, getting an excellent read on which direction one is going with current IMUs is so pricey that it has been out of range, even for gear as costly as driverless vehicles.
The key to making this affordable, small gyroscope is a virtually symmetrical mechanical resonator. It seems like a Bundt pan crossed with a wine glass, made one centimeter wide.