Look up! Have you noticed the increasing numbers of drones buzzing up in the sky these days? Most of these devices are toy quadcopters with low or no intelligence. However, there is a clear trend towards additional functionality that increases the controllability and by that the fun factor of such drones. Examples are an auto level mode for maintaining the drone's horizontal orientation, a constant altitude mode, or an orbit mode for circling around a specific point. All these added features rely on higher performance inertial and barometric pressure sensors to achieve an optimal user experience and – especially for commercial drones – an increasing grade of reliability.


Bosch Sensortec offers an extensive portfolio of sensors ideally suited for meeting the specifications required for raising drone applications to a new level. These include, for example, a gyroscope with extremely low output signal drift even under fluctuating temperature conditions. The fundamental advantage comes from the technology utilized by the sensors: a combination of advanced MEMS technology and a very robust “closed loop” analog-to-digital conversion mechanism. Both technologies are derived from Bosch’s expertise in developing safety-relevant system products for the automotive industry.


Read more about this topic in the case study "a game of drones"



The following sensors are ideal for next-generation drone applications



The BMI055 is a 6-axis inertial sensor which provides inherently very high vibration robustness and low temperature drifts due to its closed loop gyro technology, making it a perfect fit for drone applications. It consists of a triaxial acceleration sensor and a triaxial 16-bit, ±2000°/s gyroscope.


The BMI160 is a 6-axis inertial sensor available in a compact 14-pin 2.5 x 3.0 x 0.8 mm³ LGA package, comprising of a triaxial 16-bit acceleration sensor and a triaxial 16-bit, ±2000°/s gyroscope. Besides outstanding vibration robustness, it incorporates a sensor time feature, i.e. an internal timer enabling highly accurate readout of synchronized sensor data from the gyroscope and accelerometer, plus a capability to integrate a magnetometer via a secondary interface.


The BMF055 is a 9-axis inertial sensor (accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer). It features an integrated Cortex M0+ microcontroller which can, for instance, control four motors using PWM signals. A reference example on how to build a drone using this BMF055 combo sensor device can be found here.


The BMP280 is an absolute barometric pressure sensor, housed in an extremely compact package. Based on Bosch’s proven Piezo-resistive pressure sensor technology, this sensor features high accuracy and linearity, and unrivaled unparalleled long-term stability.