In order to make the drone fly perfectly, IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit), gyroscope stabilization and flight controller technology are essential. Today, drones use three- and six-axis gyroscope stabilization technology to provide navigation information to flight controllers, which makes it easier and safer for drones to fly.
Gyro stabilization technology is one of the most important components, and the drone can fly super smooth even in strong winds and gusts. This smooth flying ability allows us to take a wonderful bird’s eye view of the beautiful planet. With excellent flight stability and waypoint navigation, drones can generate high-quality 3D photogrammetry and lidar images. The latest drones use an integrated gimbal, which also includes built-in gyroscope stabilization technology, making the on-board camera or sensor virtually vibration-free. This allows us to capture the perfect aerial film and photos.
In this article, we study what is gyroscope stabilization, the function of gyroscopes in drones, including the differences between three-axis and six-axis gyroscope stabilization. We have listed the latest top drones with the best gyroscope stable autonomous flight modes and systems. There are also many very useful videos throughout the article.
Drone gyroscope stabilization
The main function of gyroscope technology is to improve the drone’s flight capabilities. The drone’s hardware, software, and algorithms can work together to improve all aspects of flight, including hovering perfectly or making sharp turns. A drone with a six-axis gimbal provides information to the IMU and flight controller, which greatly improves flight capabilities.
Gyroscopes need forces that act almost immediately against drones (gravity, wind, etc.) to keep them stable. The gyroscope provides the necessary navigation information for the central flight control system.
Gyro technology in IMU
In most drones, the gyroscope is included or integrated in the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). Drone IMU and satellite positioning ( GPS and GLONASS ) are also part of the flight controller system.
The inertial measurement unit works by detecting the current acceleration using one or more accelerometers. The IMU uses one or more gyroscopes to detect changes in rotation properties, such as pitch, roll, and yaw. Some IMUs on drones include magnetometers, which are primarily used to assist calibration to prevent directional drift.
The onboard processor continuously calculates the current position of the drone. First, it integrates the sensed acceleration with an estimate of gravity to calculate the current speed. The speed is then integrated to calculate the current position.
To fly in any direction, the flight controller collects IMU data for the current position and then sends the new data to the motor electronic speed controller ( ESC ). These electronic speed controllers send the thrust and speed signals required for the quadrotor to fly or hover to the motor.
How to take off and fly is fascinating technology. In another article entitled “Quadcopter how to fly ,” the article, we have a good explanation of how drone to take off by adjusting its motor and propeller direction, hover, fly and land in any direction. This article includes some very useful videos.
Drones have many parts, and you can read all about the individual drone parts here. This covers all the physical components found in most quadcopters.
IMU in flight controller
The flight controller consists of many components. It is the central brain of the drone. Therefore, we can now see that the gyroscope is the IMU components, and IMU is an important part of the UAV flight control system.
Flight controllers are more than just hardware. It includes and is controlled by complex software programs and mathematical algorithms. All components within the flight controller must work together seamlessly to enable the drone to navigate and fly with maximum stability.
The following are some of the functions in the DJI A2 flight controller, where the gyroscope and IMU provide basic functions;
Intelligent Direction Control ( IOC ).
Point of interest flight mode ( POI ).
Signals the motor ESC in thrust and direction .
Intelligent landing gear function.
Automatically return to the homepage.
Multiple rotor fault protection.
Highly sensitive built-in damper IMU module.
High-precision satellite receiver.
Bank turn mode and cruise control functions.
Built-in Bluetooth module and support mobile parameter adjustment.
The first gyroscope is John · Se Sen ( John Serson ) in 1743 to the invention in the following years and the emergence of various gyroscopes. Some of the original mechanical gyroscopes used two high-speed rotating heavy brass discs to detect changes in yaw angle. Since then, earlier bulky and power-hungry technologies have been replaced by modern non-mechanical alternatives that can do more than just yaw correction.
The small size and low power consumption of modern gyroscopes make them essential technologies for the aircraft, mobile device, and drone industries. The first 5 minutes of the video shows exactly what a gyroscope is.
Gyroscope stabilization for drones
To understand the role of gyroscope stabilization, it is important to realize that each drone is constantly subjected to multiple forces from different directions. These forces (such as wind) can affect the yaw, pitch, and roll of the drone, making it difficult to control the drone.
The integrated gyroscope can detect drone position changes almost immediately and compensate in such a way that it is largely unaffected because it readjusts its position hundreds of times per second or can be smooth Ground hover in place. Modern gyroscopes are manufactured in components ranging in size from 1 to 100 microns and often include multi-axis sensors in a single package.
Three-axis vs six-axis gyroscope stabilization
The three-axis gyroscope measures a rotation speed of about three axes: roll, pitch, and yaw.
Roll: Rotate around the front and rear axes.
Pitch: Rotate around the left and right axes.
Yaw: Rotate around the vertical axis.
As long as the rotation continues, the gyroscope will always provide a non-zero reading. However, when the rotation stops, the gyroscope is muted because, for its part, everything should be as expected.
So, six-axis gyroscope measurements 3 What additional axis? No. The gyroscope can only measure 3 possible axes. In contrast, the term ” six-axis gyroscope ” actually refers to an integrated system consisting of a 3D gyroscope ( 3 axis) and a 3D accelerometer. In rare cases, the accelerometer can be replaced with a 3D compass.
The function of the 3D accelerometer is to measure the direction of the drone relative to the surface of the earth. It works by using the same technology to sense the acceleration of gravity, which is the technology behind the gyroscope MEMS ( Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems ). These tiny electromechanical structures can be connected to electronic equipment, allowing engineers to build something very surprising in a very small space.
Now, this is a great video that shows you exactly how the accelerometer works. This uses a mobile phone, but the principle is the same as a drone.
Advantages of six-axis gyroscope stabilization
The combination of a 3D gyroscope and a 3D accelerometer enables a six-axis gyroscope to measure both static acceleration and dynamic acceleration due to gravity. These two measurements help us determine the angle at which the device is tilted and determine how the device moves.
As a result, drones with such gyroscopes are more stable and tolerant, which is especially useful for beginners who have just learned how to fly. They can also respond faster to any unexpected forces that affect drone motion, such as gusts of wind, making it possible to prevent drones from crashing.
Conventional three-axis gyroscopes do not help much when making sharp turns, while six-axis gyroscopes make this advanced manipulation easy.
All in all, the six-axis gyroscope stabilizer is very useful for beginners to experienced professionals who want to push the drone to the limit. To use drones in advanced applications such as 3D imaging, the stability of the six-axis gyroscope is critical.
Accelerometer and gyroscope examples
Here is an excellent video that shows you how a drone can stabilize a 3- axis accelerometer, gyroscope, ToF distance sensor ( Taranger One ), and camera in the air.
The accelerometer will detect that it has been thrown into the air and fall back to the ground. The gyroscope will then stabilize its direction within a second. Next, the distance sensor stabilizes the drone to a specific preset height from the ground. The drone will then lock to its current position. This is an amazing video that explains it well.
Flight stability best practices
Now you can have the best 6- axis gyroscope technology, but if your drone hardware (propellers, motors, bearings, shafts, etc.) is not straight, cleaned or not functioning properly, the drone will Flying irregularly or even crashing.
It is always a good idea to inspect the parts of the drone before and after each flight. It is a good idea to have spare parts in case of cracks or bends. Keeping the drone clean is another good practice. To check if the propeller is straight, it is better to have a propeller balancer. If all components look normal and the drone is flying irregularly, return them immediately.
If the drone is flying irregularly, recalibrate the IMU on a flat surface . Sometimes it is necessary to calibrate the IMU multiple times . You should also check for firmware updates on the drone manufacturer’s website to resolve any issues within the flight controller. If there are other issues, the drone may have a hardware failure in the IMU or flight controller.
The latest drones with the best flight stability
Here are some of the latest drones with the best integrated GPS , gyroscope stability, IMU technology and automatic flight systems. These also have stable gimbals and 4k cameras. These drones have safety features such as locking and returning home. These are all fantastic drones.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom – 2 new quadcopters released in August 2018 with the latest navigation, flight control, stabilization features and top cameras. Compared to last year, they are a major improvement over the early Mavic Pro .
The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are equipped with forward, backward, down and lateral vision systems, including up and down infrared sensing systems.
The main components of the forward, backward and downward vision system are the six camera sensors located on the nose, rear and underside of the Mavic 2 quadcopter . The lateral vision system is 2 cameras, with one camera on each side of the Mavic 2 quadcopter. The main components of the up and down infrared sensing system are 2 x 3D infrared modules located on the top and bottom of the Mavic 2 quadcopter .
The flight controller, IMU, and vision and infrared sensing systems help the Mavic 2 fly super-smoothly and accurately. When hovering, these systems help the Mavic 2 maintain its current position and hover in place very accurately. Vision and infrared sensing systems also allow the Mavic 2 to fly indoors or in other areas where GPS signals are not available .
DJI Mavic Air – This mini drone was released in January 2018 and uses the latest gyroscope IMU technology. The Mavic Air is launched from the ground or from your hands, so it uses the technology from the video above, but is more advanced and stable. In long grass or snowy areas, the option to pick from your hands is great.
When launched from your hand, the Mavic Air rises smoothly and hovers perfectly and stably for an instant. You can also fly Mavic Air using gestures or mobile phones . Mavic Air also has facial recognition. It uses vision sensors and algorithms to detect and focus on people or objects ahead. Mavic Air also uses vision sensors and very sophisticated visual cue machine learning algorithms to detect obstacles and avoid collisions. The Mavic Air can fly around obstacles, and if the obstacle is too large, it will hover in front of the obstacle. This is incredibly advanced technology and this is a good article on obstacle detection and collision avoidance in drones to learn more.
Mavic Air now has many intelligent flight modes, such as Rocket, Drone, Circle , Spiral, and Asteroids. These intelligent flight modes make flying and shooting very easy.
DJI Mavic Pro – This folded drone can fly and circle perfectly. The technology is called “FlightAutonomy” and consists of 7 components, including 5 cameras (front and rear dual-view sensors and main camera), dual-frequency satellite positioning ( GPS and GLONASS ), 2 ultrasonic rangefinders, redundant sensors and one 24 powerful dedicated computing core groups.
The Mavic’s front left and right cameras are fixed in place using aluminum brackets to ensure optimal alignment of the vision sensor lens.
As Mavic flew, the two-way front and down vision sensors measure the distance between themselves and obstacles by taking photos from all four cameras and using that information to create a 3D map that accurately indicates the location of the obstacle.
The dual forward and downward vision sensors require visible light to function, and can see up to 49 feet ( 15 meters) ahead in strong light . In all smart flight modes (including all ActiveTrack modes, TapFly and Terrain Follow. It can also be used when returning home automatically, so Mavic can easily return without hitting anything.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro – Only released in November 2016, this quad-rotor has a gyro-stable autonomous flight mode, including collision avoidance and visual perception. Programmable gyroscope stable flight modes include “ Draw waypoint ” , “TapFly” , “ActiveTrack follow me ” , “ Terrain following ” , “ Gesture mode ” , “ Sport ” mode and so on.
The Phantom 4 drone has an integrated stable gimbal that can capture stunning 4k video and capture 12 megapixel still images. You can read further and watch some great videos here to show you Phantom 4 Pro . This article includes information and videos about its intelligent flight modes and collision avoidance technology.
Typhoon Yuneec H – The latest multi-rotor aircraft from Yuneec was exhibited at CES 2016 , and it has everything you might look for in a drone. It has a gyroscope-stabilized integrated autonomous flight mode such as orbit, points of interest, journey, arc cam, follow me / observe me. It can shoot video in 4k and capture 12 megapixel still images via the integrated 3- axis stabilized gimbal .
Six-axis gyroscope stabilization
Some areas beyond aerial photography and photography benefit from drone six-axis gyroscope stabilization technology.
Drone acrobatics and racing
Many people enjoy drones just for the sheer joy of acrobatics and racing. Without the stability of a six-axis gyroscope, it is difficult to fly at steep angles, especially when turning the drone without falling.
Drone racing is an evolving sport that relies on very fast flight control systems because the track is full of obstacles. These drones are fast and must transmit live video back to the pilot with extremely low latency. You can read further in this article on FPV live video.
3D drafting and photogrammetry
The next drone video comes from a project where Pix4D , along with Canadian drone maker Aeryon Labs Inc and Rio PUC University, created the first 3D map of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio .
Weather and conditions are constantly changing, with gusts up to 30 mph ( 50 km / h ), making the project particularly difficult. This project is impossible to fly manually. In a gust of wind, the drone could easily deviate from the channel by a few meters before the pilot responded.
Pix4D is one of the market leaders in creating 3D maps and models using photogrammetry software . You can read reviews of other top 3D mapping software companies here .
The drone’s flight control system has 6- axis gyroscope stability and GPS , waypoint navigation capabilities, making this project possible. Other projects and industries also benefit from this technology, which was first invented hundreds of years ago.