The gyroscopes used in older control and guidance systems are ’spinning rotor’ types as they exploit the angular momentum of a spinning rotor to sense angular motion. Stand alone Gyros formed part of many avionic systems in the 60’s and 70’s. For example the F-16 Head Up Display had Rate Gyros to provide an input to the weapon aiming system.
An inertial navigation system includes at least a computer and a platform or module containing accelerometers and gyroscopes or other motion-sensing devices. The advantage of an INS is that it requires no external references in order to determine its position, orientation, or velocity once it has been initialized. Gyroscopes measure the angular velocity of the system and by integrating the angular velocity, the system's current orientation is known at all times.
However Gyros are mechanically complex and their inherent failure modes led to a search for solid state systems resulting in the Ring Laser Gyro, Fibre Optic Gyro and Vibrating Ring Gyro.
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