Laser control uses a system of algorithms(any method or procedure for computation)on a computer to control the path of vehicles. These vehicles include airplanes, rockets, missiles, ships, torpedoes, drones, and material transport vehicles. The computer uses the guidance system to utilize the knowledge of where the vehicle is and where it should be. This difference is then processed by the guidance algorithm and then outputs to the vehicle a steering command to reduce the difference between the desired path and the actual path.
In the following diagram, the trajectory for the vehicle has been computer and stored in the computer. As the vehicle heads towards its destination, the values for trajectory, desired position, and velocity are made available at the summation device(where the calculations are made). The vehicle then uses sensors to measure the actual position and velocity and subtracts these values from the reference trajectory. Through calculation, the summation device finds an error signal and then attempts to correct the error to minimize the difference between the reference trajectory and the actual trajectory.
In the following diagram, the vehicle is tracking a target that may or may not be moving. The exact position of the target is not sensed, instead there is a measurement of the difference between the vector from the vehicle to the target and the vector describing the vehicle orientation. This requires the guidance system to use a different type of sensor from that used in the previous diagram. An example would be a radar rigidly mounted to the nose of a vehicle. The target bearing would automatically be measured relative to the attitude or orientation of the vehicle. The role of the guidance system is to process the error signal and use the result to steer the vehicle towards the target.
There are many important attributes that contribute to how effective a guidance system will be. The first is accuracy. A guidance system is no better than the quality of its sensor. The next attribute is speed of response. The system needs to be able to recover from any errors that occur and correct for them quickly. There is also a need for a stable response. A guidance system cannot react so quickly that it will overshoot its target. Another attribute is durability. Nothing behaves like its model and the guidance system needs to overcome these differences and give a good overall performance. Reliability is the final concern. Many times, backup components are used to insure the guidance system works properly.
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