Analysis of Positional Precision when Using Ground Control Points with Supported INS in GNSS-Free Environments
Abstract: Railway traffic is one of the most used transportation methods in today's society both for freight transports and transportation of people. A necessity for this to function is that the tracks upon which the trains travel are functional. This includes both that the tracks have been constructed correctly and that the tracks have not experienced wear and tear to the level that their functionality is in jeopardy. This requires that the tracks are thoroughly maintained and thus a continuous knowledge about the state of the tracks is required. One way to obtain knowledge about the current track geometry is to measure the tracks using laser scanners to establish the tracks geographical position. This in turn leads to the possibility to notice changes in the tracks. These laser scanners can be mounted on trains or modified vehicles where they scan the tracks while the vehicle is moving along the tracks. However, the scanned points also have to be precisely located in a coordinate system so that they can be compared to the scanned geometry of the initial tracks. The precise locations can be acquired by using Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) along with Inertial Measurement Systems (INS) and odometers, which are then used as input in a Kalman filter. The GNSS and INS complement each other in a good way since INS have very high positional accuracy and a large temporal error while GNSS has an acceptable positional accuracy and no temporal error. In locations where there is sufficient GNSS availability, this method reaches positional accuracies around the low cm level. The aforementioned method does however struggle when there is subpar GNSS availability, for example in tunnels or in dense forests. This necessitates the use of additional data, and in this work the use of ground control points (GCP) have been examined. The GCPs have been implemented in simulated GNSS-free areas where a temporal distance of 2, 5, 10, 20 and 40 seconds between GCPs has been used. Based on these experiments, an estimated positional accuracy from 0.5 cm to 30 cm in GNSS-free environments has been acquired depending on the distance between points. The authors recommend an implementation of GCPs in a tightly coupled approach every 5-10 seconds to achieve a reliable positional precision on the mm-cm level. The disadvantages of GCPs are quite large since they have to be established and maintained, which costs a fair amount of money and time. It is therefore of utmost importance to minimize the need for GCPs. This can be accomplished either by using alternative solutions such as implementations of track alignment in the Kalman filter, but also by increasing the efficiency of the GCPs. The way that this thesis recommends this to be researched is to use the same GCPs multiple times by either using more advanced sensors for locating the GCPs or by increasing the number of sensors as well as spreading them out across the vehicle.
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