How Do Accelerometers Work

When utilizing navigation and guidance systems for autopilot, safety systems, and other such devices, a hardware component known as an accelerometer serves as one of the most important parts of the assembly. As an electromechanical device capable of measuring acceleration forces, static forces, dynamic forces, and speed changes can all be accurately captured for various applications. With the importance that accelerometers serve for aircraft, ships, automobiles, and various electronics, understanding their uses and functionalities is crucial for anyone regularly operating such systems.

Functionalities  of  Accelerometer

Unlike coordinate acceleration measurements that may be provided by a device such as a fixed coordinate system, an accelerometer measures proper acceleration. Proper acceleration refers to velocity rate changes of a body in relation to its own instantaneous rest frame. As such, they often prove very beneficial for a number of industries and science applications such as digital cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles, and other systems in which stabilization or orientation is a concern. With either single- or multi-axis accelerometers, orientation, shock, vibration, and other states can be detected and used for particular needs as well.

For the functionality of an accelerometer, the component often takes advantage of seismic mass housed within itself which can resist movement due to inertia. By measuring the seismic mass’ displacement in regard to the housing of the component, acceleration can be found. Beyond such methods, accelerometers are also capable of utilizing the piezoelectric effect for measurements. With small microscopic crystals structures that produce voltage when accelerative forces are induced, such accelerometers can use the resulting current to make a measurement. Furthermore, other methods such as microstructures, hot air bubbles, light, and the piezoresistive effect all may be used for the functionality of the accelerometer.

With the various types of accelerometers available, such components are most often used for inertial navigation system, inertial reference system, inertial reference unit, and air data inertial reference unit equipment. Within such devices, the accelerometer gyroscopes work alongside electronic circuitry to garner readings that assist in guidance, position calculation, speed measurement, and attitude measurement. While these systems are paramount for aircraft and naval vessels to conduct autopilot operations, they can also assist the Flight Data Recorder of aircraft for measuring acceleration on three axes and cars for the timing of airbag deployment. When implemented within vehicles, an accelerometer allows for navigation systems to determine the direction and speed of a moving object without any external references. If used within an aircraft, one should always remember that an accelerometer alone is unreliable for altitude measurements when there is a vertical decrease of gravity as calibration and data reduction will be numerically unstable.

As consumer electronics continue to be improved with new features and capabilities, accelerometers are becoming ever more present in such devices. With smartphones and digital cameras, accelerometer measurements are often used to detect the orientation of the device, ensuring that the screen is always upright for the user with a tilt sensor. With special accelerometers called free-fall sensors, devices such as laptops can detect drops so that safety measures can be rapidly enacted to protect sensitive components from shock and impact forces. Even within entertainment devices, accelerometers provide many video game consoles and their related accessories with motion detection for control, motion input, etc.

With the many accelerometer types available on the market, a variety of electronics and devices ranging from digital cameras to navigation systems can benefit from their capabilities. Whether you are searching for aircraft parts, electronic components, or other industry items, look no further than ASAP Aviation Procurement. As a trusted distributor for all types of aircraft parts, we can fulfill your operational requirements with ease. Experience how ASAP Aviation Procurement is revolutionizing the part procurement process for our customers today when you fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website.


October 12, 2022