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1 Silicon Sensing

From the Silicon Sensing website:

The business was formed in 1999 to supply motion sensing solutions to high-volume automotive markets - but can trace its ancestry back to the early days of Sperry Gyroscope. Sumitomo Precision Products' advanced MEMS fabrication technology combines with Atlantic Inertial Systems' patented solid state gyro and inertial systems knowledge to manufacture and supply angular rate sensors (gyros) and inertial systems. Today, Silicon Sensing has an outstanding reputation for the development and production of innovative technology and the high volume production of reliable and affordable sensors, deployed across a diverse range of commercial and automotive applications.

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1.1 Technology

Inertial sensors measure (typically rate or acceleration) in inertial space. In other words, a fixed frame relative to some large slow moving body such as the Earth. Gyroscopes typically include a proof mass which doesn't move in inertial space. The measured rate is a rate relative to this inertial proof mass.

Over the past couple of decades solid state MEMS device have replaced the older spinning gyros in Silicon Sensing's technology. MEMS gyros incorporate a vibrating proof mass instead of a spinning mass.

1.2 Silicon Sensing's VSG Resonators

Silicon Sensing states that their technology is a "Vibrating Structure Gyro". The picture on their website shows a resonating ring that deforms over time. Some sort of vibrating proof mass is necessary in all MEMS gyros.

1.2.1 VSG-3 Inductive Resonator

The VSG-3 is the third generation of VSG sensor with approximately 3 million VSG-3 gyros are produced.

1.2.2 VSG-4 Capacitive Resonator

Silicon Sensing states that the VSG-4 is their latest (4th) generation of the VSG series gyro. They consider this to be an evolution of their resonating ring MEMS structure.

1.3 Applications

In many aerospace and automotive the angular rate is very important. In an automobile, an angular rate above a certain threshold could be used to trigger a roll-over sensor. A sustained rate over time could be integrated in order to determine an angular threshold (such as 45 deg) for roll-over detection. Obviously these same sensors can be used to determine when the automobile is spining. In aerospace, the angular rate can be used for pointing compensation.

Silicon Sensing lists the following applications for their sensors:

  • Segway
  • Mobile Antennas
  • Avionics
  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Vehicle Stability