MEMS Sensors are the core of every drone, and this is why
November 8, 2020

They are extremely small and capable of registering every little thing. Yet they rarely make their presence known, are completely silent, and prefer to remain in the background.

For some, they may sound like the ideal companion. And as a matter of fact, they are. Life these days would be pretty inconceivable — not to mention slow and complicated — without microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors. Capable of reacting to even the slightest changes, they can be found hidden away in cell phones, drones, hard drives, cameras, airbags, ESP systems, pacemakers, and much more.

As Per Johansson, General Manager, Robert Bosch Middle East FZE, puts it, ‘Drones are equipped with Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) sensor technology combined with software, which are enhancing the capabilities of modern drones to work more seamlessly than ever. MEMS-based devices are commercially available as single-chip devices that easily integrate onto a circuit board; they are a combination of electronic and mechanical hardware, where every MEMS sensor consists of tiny silicon structures that are engineered into a silicon wafer with a special etching process.

The stabilizer keeps the drone on a horizontal level by utilizing Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) output. The inertial MEMS sensors in the drones keep their orientation stable and can be precisely controlled by a user, or even fly autonomously. Furthermore, integrating data from the barometric pressure sensor enables a drone to maintain its altitude and position. For example, under a microscope, an acceleration sensor’s structures look like gossamer combs in interlocking patterns; the external force changes the electrical voltage between the individual teeth, transforming a mechanical force into an electrical signal.

In addition to acceleration sensors that measure the movements of the aircraft, built-in yaw-rate sensors detect the angle of attack and magnetic field sensors gauge its compass heading, whereas pressure sensors determine the altitude via the barometric pressure and the current speed via the dynamic pressure. The precision of the drone’s IMU, barometric pressure sensor, geomagnetic sensor, Application Specific Sensor Node (ASSN), and sensor data fusion have a direct and significant effect on its flying performance. Bosch develops sensortec motion and barometric pressure sensors which ensures solid reliability and performance for drones through highly accurate measurement. Even in challenging environment and windy situations, this assures an optimal user experience which becomes part of the success story for any organization.’

Photography, agriculture, transportation security or simply entertainment: new applications for drones seem to emerge constantly. Initially, most drones were relatively simple toys. More recently, however, their flying capabilities have improved significantly, making them safer, more stable, and easier to control, and thus allowing them to be used for a much wider range of real-life applications.  Bosch Sensortec motion and barometric pressure sensors ensure solid reliability and high performance for drones through highly accurate measurement without falsification through vibration or temperature, for example from a built-in motor. This ensures an optimal user experience even in challenging environments such as windy situations. Bosch MEMS sensors are easy to integrate into drones and offer a broad feature spectrum, for example the possibilty to automate flights or the usage of different flight modes.

Technology is evolving every day, and so are the environmental challenges. The drone industry is backed by round-the-clock advancements in the MEMS sensors which would further increase the deployment of drones at a much larger extent than today. As a result, remotely controlled unmanned drones will soon become the most technologically advanced aircrafts in the sky.

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at:
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