Angular Rate Sensor vs Gyroscope: Understanding the Differences and Choosing the Right Option


Short answer angular rate sensor vs gyroscope: An angular rate sensor measures rotational velocity, while a gyroscope measures the orientation of an object in space. Therefore, although they can overlap in some applications, they are fundamentally different sensors with distinct functionalities and characteristics.

How do Angular Rate Sensors and Gyroscopes Work? A Step-by-Step Comparison

Angular rate sensors and gyroscopes are two commonly used devices in modern technology that measure angular velocity (how fast something is rotating around an axis). However, even though they both measure the same thing, they work differently from each other. This blog post will explore the fundamental differences between how angular rate sensors and gyroscopes work, with a step-by-step comparison.

Step 1: The Basic Principle of Angular Rate Sensors
Angular rate sensors are also known as rate gyroscopes or gyros for short. They work based on a concept called Coriolis effect, discovered by French scientist Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis in 1835. As per this phenomenon, when an object moves in a rotating frame of reference – like a spinning wheel inside a car – it experiences a force perpendicular to its motion direction; this phenomenon causes angular displacement. In turn, this displacement can generate an electrical signal proportional to the rotation speed.

To put it simply, suppose you have a mechanical device that rotates at constant speed about an axis; if you change its angle or rotate it along another axis perpendicular to the first one (as long as there’s rotation), some sort of physical movement happens in response to Coriolis acceleration felt by the sensor. That movement transduces into changes in capacitance or resistance applied across electrodes or piezoelectric materials. An electronic circuit then takes these “displacement” patterns and processes them into usable signals scaled proportional to angular velocity.

Step 2: The Basic Principle of Gyroscopes
Gyroscopes are more complicated and rely on two different principles; however, they accomplish fundamentally the same purpose as angular rate sensors – measuring rotational speed but with much higher precision.

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The first principle is conservation of angular momentum. It means that any moving object has angular momentum based on its mass and velocity vector at any given time. To get technical terms out of the way: torque acting upon an object can change its angular momentum, which largely influences the magnitude of rotation rates.

A gyroscope works by exploiting this principle. In a typical setup, there is a spinning wheel and an inner gimbal that enables the wheel to rotate about its vertical axis (let’s say it’s on an X-Y plane). When you move that object in one direction, you create a torque – proportional to mand his velocity vector – acting perpendicular to the original spinning plane. As with momentum conservation, your input creates coupling between the gyroscopic component and another system outside of it. So if you tilt the gyro around another axis or apply a force in any other direction than what it was rotating before (e.g., moving along Z plane), you “feel” feedback from that spinning part.

The second principle is based on something called “precession.” This means when an external force acts on a spinning object, instead of effecting immediately its axis of spin, it forces the spin axis onto a different trajectory because of conservation laws. The resulting effort becomes observable as a slight deflection away from expected

Frequently Asked Questions about Angular Rate Sensors vs Gyroscopes: Everything you need to know

Angular rate sensors and gyroscopes are two types of sensors that measure rotational motion. Both sensors play a critical role in modern-day technology, including aviation, robotics, and even smartphones. However, there is often confusion between these two terms and how they differ from one another. In this article, we’ll explore frequently asked questions about angular rate sensors versus gyroscopes and provide everything you need to know.

Q: What is an angular rate sensor?
A: An angular rate sensor (also known as an accelerometer) measures the change in rotation over time. It detects acceleration along specific axes (x, y, and z). Angular rate sensors are commonly used in flight control systems for planes and drones to keep them steady in the air.

Q: What is a gyroscope?
A: A gyroscope measures rotational velocity around a particular axis. Unlike angular rate sensors that detect changes in rotation or acceleration, gyroscopes’ purpose is to maintain stability when objects rotate around their axes.

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Q: How are the two different from each other?
A: The key difference between an angular rate sensor and a gyroscope lies in what parameter each measures. While both devices are used for detecting rotational motion or orientation changes (such as pitch or yaw), the former deals with change in instantaneous speeds while the latter manages establishing fixed reference points without regards to speed data.

Q: Can you explain how they work?
A: Gyroscopes use rotational inertia to detect any deviations against an initial plane of reference. Angular rate sensors use capacitive plates’ relative displacement due to variation caused by Coriolis force traction acting on vibrating piezoelectric elements upon required reactions.

Q: Are they expensive?
A: Generally speaking, angular rate sensors tend to be less expensive than gyroscopes because of their simpler design compared with more complex mechanisms found within gyros—though cost isn’t necessarily correlated with accuracy or effectiveness.

Q: Why are these technologies important?
A: Both angular rate sensors and gyroscopes are essential components in many systems that require stable operation, including navigation equipment, robotics, and drones. Gyroscopes help pilots maintain their planes’ stability by enabling them to determine their orientation even when other cues (such as visual perception) might be disrupted. Meanwhile, angular rate sensors keep drones aloft and steady by measuring changes in speed/acceleration.

Q: Do they have other applications?
A: Absolutely! These technologies have found use cases outside of traditional engineering contexts as an alternative for motion controllers in gaming and virtual reality systems where rapid response times and high precision are critical.

Q: Is one ‘better’ than the other?
A: Angular rate sensors and gyroscopes provide different data points suited to their unique purpose – the answer lies in your specific application needs.

To summarize, both angular rate sensors and gyroscopes play a crucial role in the modern technological era. While these two technologies differ in how they detect rotational motion or orientation changes, they’re similar in terms of usage within numerous sophisticated systems requiring

Choosing the Right Motion Sensors for Your Application: The Pros and Cons of Angular Rate Sensors and Gyroscopes

When it comes to motion sensors, there are two main options available on the market: angular rate sensors and gyroscopes. While they may seem quite similar at first glance, these sensors have some slight differences that can make a big impact on your application and its overall performance.

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So, how do you decide which sensor is best suited for your needs? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of angular rate sensors and gyroscopes.

Angular Rate Sensors

Angular rate sensors (ARS) measure the rotational velocity of an object around a single axis. They’re typically used in applications that require high accuracy measurements of angular velocity such as GPS systems, drones or robotics.


One of the biggest advantages of ARS is their high accuracy readings. Since they measure only one axis at a time, they’re able to provide precise measurements without interference from any other movement in other directions or axes.

In addition, many ARS are also compact in size and easy to integrate into various devices. They’re also generally lower cost than gyroscopes, which makes them ideal for applications where cost savings is key.


While ARS are highly accurate over short-term usage, their long-term stability may be compromised due to environmental factors such as temperature fluctuations. Additionally, since they can only measure rotation along one axis at a time, multiple sensors may be needed to fully capture motion data from all directions.


Gyroscopes measure the orientation and rotational speed of an object across three perpendicular axes (X,Y,Z). They are often used in applications related to navigation systems where continuous 3D motion tracking is required.


One major advantage of gyroscopes is their ability to detect rotation along all three axes simultaneously. This allows them to track an object’s movement through space with great precision over long periods of time. Additionally, they tend to maintain their long-term stability better than ARS even under extreme environmental conditions like changes in temperature.


Compared to ARS, gyroscopes can be more expensive and larger in size. They may also be more prone to measurement error under certain environmental conditions, such as high acceleration or vibration.

So what’s the verdict? The choice between ARS and gyroscopes ultimately depends on the specific requirements of your application. If high accuracy over short periods of time is your main priority, an ARS might be the way to go. But if you need accurate continuous 3D motion tracking over long periods of time, a gyroscope may be worth the investment.

At the end of the day, both sensors have their pros and cons, but understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision on which sensor is right for your needs.

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