Unmanned Systems Technology 027 l Hummingbird XRP l Gimbals l UAVs insight l AUVSI report part 2 l O’Neill Power Systems NorEaster l Kratos Defense ATMA l Performance Monitoring l Kongsberg Maritime Sounder

36 T he value derived from investing in a powerful imaging system will only be as high as the assembly in which the camera is packaged. As well as controlling and stabilising the pan, tilt and roll of the payload sensors, gimbal systems have to isolate and protect them from external forces, while also providing encoding and processing of the data being collected. With the industry seeing a major drive for miniaturisation of high-end sensor packages to enable longer endurances for survey UAVs, as well as growing demand for intelligent object recognition and tracking, gimbal manufacturers are leveraging new technologies and investing in new processes for optimising the systems they produce. Mechanical versus digital stabilisation It is important to remember that the term ‘gimbal’ does not refer only to the mechanically operated enclosure in which a UAV’s mission sensors are installed. It also signifies each of the mechanically rotational axes integrated into the overall gimbal system. As a general rule, the more individual gimbals that are installed, the more the platform can be stabilised. As a minimum, one gimbal for elevation (pitch or tilt) and another for azimuth (yaw or pan) are typically incorporated. A third gimbal can be used to provide roll compensation, or additional elevation or azimuthing. Having gimbals for the enclosure as well as integrated axes for a particular plane of rotation naturally gives more ways to isolate the visual feed from the various disrupting forces acting on the payload. It can also help overcome problems of gimbal lock when two axes are driven into a parallel configuration. Rory Jackson looks at how gimbal manufacturers adopt the latest technologies to keep their systems optimised Eyes on the prize August/September 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology The quality of high-end payload gimbals is closely linked to the specialised techniques and equipment of each individual gimbal manufacturer (Courtesy of Ascent Vision Technologies)