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Playing with an aircraft's Inertial Navigation System


Here's the triple-axis accelerometer picking up movement as I balance it on my hand.


Accelerometers are used to measure the motion and vibration of a structure that is exposed to dynamic loads. Dynamic loads originate from a variety of sources including:


Human activities – walking, running, dancing or skipping

Working machines – inside a building or in the surrounding area

Construction work – driving piles, demolition, drilling and excavating

Moving loads on bridges

Vehicle collisions

Impact loads – falling debris

Concussion loads – internal and external explosions

Collapse of structural elements

Wind loads and wind gusts

Air blast pressure

Loss of support because of ground failure

Earthquakes and aftershocks


Accelerometers have multiple applications in industry and science. Highly sensitive accelerometers are components of inertial navigation systems for aircraft and missiles. Accelerometers are used to detect and monitor vibration in rotating machinery.


Accelerometers are used in tablets and digital cameras so that images on screens are always displayed upright. Accelerometers are used in drones for flight stabilisation. Coordinated accelerometers can be used to measure differences in proper acceleration, particularly gravity, over their separation in space; i.e., gradient of the gravitational field. This gravitational geometry is useful because absolute gravity is a weak effect and depends on local density of the Earth which is quite variable.


Single- and multi-axis models of accelerometer are available to detect magnitude and direction of the proper acceleration, as a vector quantity, and can be used to sense orientation (because direction of weight changes), coordinate acceleration, vibration, shock, and falling in a resistive medium (a case where the proper acceleration changes, since it starts at zero, then increases).


Micromachined microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers are increasingly present in portable electronic devices and video game controllers, to detect the position of the device or provide for game input.


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