Xsens Mti Motion Data Merged With The Power Of Ethercat

Technology is evolving in an increasingly rapid pace, from autonomous driving and exoskeletons up to sustainable energy solutions. These applications share, among other things, the need for accurate (motion) sensing systems presenting their data on a (real time) fieldbus.

In this article we will discuss the Gable IMU, a motion sensor combining the performance of Xsens inertial sensor modules with EtherCAT (P) connectivity. Two use cases will be presented showing specific applications for the Gable IMU.

What is a Gable IMU?

The Gable IMU, developed by Gable Systems, combines accurate motion sensing from Xsens MTi sensors with direct EtherCAT connectivity. This offers customers around the world the ability to easily integrate Xsens MTi's into their own control systems that use EtherCAT as the main fieldbus.

What is EtherCAT?

EtherCAT is a high speed real time Ethernet protocol, mainly used in industrial automation and data acquisition. Since it is highly deterministic (timing) it allows for accurate and synchronous control in high performance applications. Moreover, using the EtherCAT P standard, cabling can be reduced to a one cable solution with power and EtherCAT communication on the same wire.


Gable IMU use cases

Gable IMUs are actively being used by companies building tidal turbines, humanoid robots, exoskeletons, high speed testing rigs and vibration compensation controls for industrial robotic arms. Following next, two specific use cases will be described showing the unique characteristics of the different Gable IMUs.

Case 1: EtherCAT IMU Module - Agile humanoid robot
IHMC is working in collaboration with Boardwalk Robotics to develop a next generation humanoid robot, which will have a high power-to-weight ratio and large range of motion, along with development of autonomous and semi-autonomous behaviors to allow the humanoid to function in urban environments. To accurately measure the robot kinematics, IHMC needed sensors which could measure angular velocities and linear accelerations. These sensors should be placed inside each segment of the humanoid, with tight space constraints and direct connectivity to EtherCAT. The small form factor EtherCAT IMU Module with the Xsens MTi-3 AHRS is a perfect fit in terms of size and performance. The EtherCAT IMU Modules are already integrated into the humanoid legs, arms and trunk feeding the full body pose controller with the necessary data.

“The small form factor EtherCAT IMU Modules where a perfect fit in terms of size and performance.”

Case 2: SE600 - Tidal turbines
Orbital Marine Power (OMP) is building the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, the Orbital O2 2MW. The O2 was designed primarily for low cost access to all systems and components, which are located within the floating superstructure. It will also feature ‘gull wing’ style retractable legs that raise the nacelles, pitch hubs and blades to the water surface for easy access.

Due to the team at Orbital needing to measure accelerations of the tidal turbine for maintenance and monitoring, the SE620 was a perfect fit regarding performance and integrability since it could be directly connected to their already implemented EtherCAT network. The robust IP67 housing of the SE600 with Xsens MTi-620 VRU provide the necessary protection needed in the harsh off-shore conditions at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, where the O2 will be deployed in spring, 2021.

‘The robust IP67 housing of the SE600 IMUs provides the protection needed in these harsh off-shore conditions.’


Although the two use cases are completely different they share the need for accurate motion sensing and EtherCAT connectivity. With the SE600 and the EtherCAT IMU Modules, there is a fit for almost every use case. In a continuously growing market for motion sensing and EtherCAT, the Gable IMU is the perfect fit for current and future technologies.

Reach out to Gable Systems
If you are interested in the Gable IMU, or want to learn more, please visit their website or reach out to one of their technical or sales persons by filling out the contact form on their website.


About Gable Systems
Gable Systems started years ago as a Spin-off company of the University of Twente, Enschede the Netherlands. With support of the University of Twente and two large clinical centers (Roessingh Research and Development and Sint Maartenskliniek Nijmegen) an innovative Gait and Balance training robot, the Gable CORE, is being developed. With the combination of innovative technologies and close clinical collaboration, the Gable CORE will greatly impact cost and quality of gait and balance therapy, i.e. for stroke survivors. The Gable IMU, initially developed for the Gable CORE, was redesigned into a high performance product suitable for the most demanding industrial automation and data acquisition applications.