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Why You Need a Highly Reliable INS for 3D Mapping

Why You Need a Highly Reliable INS for 3D Mapping

Around the world, companies are investing heavily in technologies to inspect, survey or map assets without ever needing to set foot near those areas or infrastructures. Aerial photography has long been a key tool in the expanding field of 3D mapping with new software becoming available every day.

Industries as diverse as real estate, agriculture, urban planning, forestry management, oil and gas exploration, mobile mapping, cellular networking planning, transportation planning, and more, have come to rely on digital 3D models to support a variety of their operations -- from planning to inventorying and even maintenance.

Aerial surveying, which utilizes 3D mapping, takes less time and can be significantly less expensive than other surveying methods. In addition, it provides a unique view that is impossible to capture any other way, with a highly accurate measurement of terrain, buildings and other physical features, giving a true sense of depth, size and height.

“Sometimes our UAVs are operating two or three kilometers away from our crew and there can be a lot of movement due to wind. For our customers’ applications, a small error in attitude or position information can have a significant influence on the quality of data you obtain.” – Dr. Christoph Eck, Aeroscout

An inertial navigation system (INS) is comprised of an inertial measurement unit (IMU), a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver and sensor fusion software. These components work together to calculate position, orientation, and velocity to deliver critical navigation information in GNSS-denied areas like urban canyons, bridges, tunnels, mountains, parking garages and dense forests.

While helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are still widely used, many companies are opting to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to improve safety, efficiency and data fidelity. Today, many companies like Aeroscout, use Honeywell’s HGuide n580 inertial navigation system to capture data using light detection and ranging (LiDAR), an advanced surveying technology that uses lasers to measure distance to create 3D maps.

LiDAR provides extremely accurate 3D data sets (referred to as point clouds) that are then manipulated by a computer to create the finished 3D model. To better understand how the LiDAR point clouds fit together, the computer needs accurate position and orientation information provided by a navigation system.

Our HGuide n580 inertial navigation system is used in various 3D mapping applications in combination with LiDAR on the ground and in the sky to tell companies where the data is being captured even in GPS-denied areas.

Output includes time-stamped position, velocity, angular rate, linear acceleration, roll, pitch and heading data. In its powerful dual antenna mode, it supports GNSS-based heading measurements and initialization. Honeywell’s integration expertise blends the IMU and GNSS data to provide highly accurate and robust navigation data.

By combining LiDAR and our n580 navigator, surveying companies around the world are creating 3D maps to efficiently monitor their assets in remote regions to identify areas that require maintenance.

“It is also very accurate, even when GNSS conditions are not perfect. Sometimes we work in valleys where signals are blocked by mountains, but we find that the operation of the HGuide n580 inertial navigation system remains very precise and accurate. This is important because, otherwise, we would find errors when processing the data we collect – particularly laser data.” – Dr. Christoph Eck, Aeroscout

For more information about our HGuide n580 or HGuide n380 inertial navigation systems or to speak with an inertial sensor and navigation product specialist, please visit

Jeremy Dingman
Director, Customer Marketing

Jeremy Dingman is the Director of Product Marketing and has been with Honeywell since 2015.


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