The heart of an inertial navigation system is the Inertial Measuring Unit (I.M.U.) as this carries out the fundamental tasks of measuring the vehicle acceleration and providing a spatial reference. The I.M.U. thus determines the system performance and accuracy; it also accounts for about two thirds of the initial cost of the system and is a major factor in the cost of ownership.
Up to now the majority of IN systems have used a stable platform I.M.U. where the gyros and accelerometers are mounted on a gimbal suspended platform which is servo controlled from the gyros. This has greatly eased the task of developing suitable gyros of the required accuracy, as the gimbal stabilization system isolates the gyros from the angular motion of the vehicle and greatly simplifies the subsequent computation in terms of axis transformations; it provides a direct read out of the euler angles—heading, pitch and roll. However such a system is inevitably mechanically complex and its ultimate reliability is constrained by such components as slip rings, servo motors, synchros, resolvers, encoders, gimbal bearings &c.