Pressure sensor designed for altitude tracking in drones

9th March 2018
Lanna Cooper


Bosch Sensortec has introduced a new high performance barometric pressure MEMS sensor: the BMP388, which is well suited for altitude tracking in Consumer Electronics (CE) drones, wearables, smart homes and other applications.

"Together with Bosch Sensortec’s IMU and geomagnetic sensor, the BMP388 provides a comprehensive, high quality sensor solution for drones," said Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO at Bosch Sensortec.

"By providing accurate measurement of altitude, orientation and heading, Bosch MEMS sensors make flying drones much easier, safer and more rewarding.”

Comprehensive drone sensor solution
The BMP388 delivers altitude stabilisation in drones, where accurate measurement of barometric pressure provides the essential altitude data for improving flight stability and landing accuracy.

The new barometric pressure sensor is part of Bosch Sensortec’s comprehensive sensor solution for drones, which includes the BMI088 Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) for accurate steering and the BMM150 geomagnetic sensor for the provision of heading data.

The recently announced BMI088 is a 6-axis IMU, consisting of a triaxial 16-bit acceleration sensor with performance and a triaxial automotive-proven 16-bit gyroscope. Drones can take full advantage of the IMU’s vibration suppression and robustness and stability in conditions such as sudden temperature fluctuations.

The BMM150 is a low power and low noise triaxial digital geomagnetic sensor designed for compass applications. Due to its stable performance over a wide temperature range, this geomagnetic sensor is well suited for determining accurate heading for drones.

Altitude stabilisation for wearables and smart home applications
In addition to drones, the BMP388 provides a very flexible, one-size-fits-all solution for increasing the accuracy of navigation and fitness applications in wearables and smart homes, for example by utilising altitude data to improve GPS precision or to determine floor levels inside buildings.

It can also improve the precision of calorie counting in wearables and mobile devices, for example by identifying if a person is walking uphill or downhill when using a step counter.

Simple to use and highly accurate
With a Temperature Coefficient Offset (TCO) of 0.75 Pa/K between -20°C to 65°C, the BMP388 further improves the accuracy of altitude measurement over a wide temperature range. The new sensor provides a price performance ratio coupled with low power consumption and a high level of design flexibility - combined in a compact LGA package measuring only 2.0x2.0x0.75 mm³.

FIFO and interrupt functionality provide simple access to data and storage. This enables power consumption to be reduced to only 2.7µA at 1Hz during full operation, while simultaneously making the sensor easier to use. Tests in real life environments have proven a relative accuracy of +/-0.08 hPa (+/-0.66 m) over a temperature range from 25°C to 40°C. The accuracy between 900 and 1,100hPa is +/- 0.40hPa over a temperature range from 25°C to 40°C.

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