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Accurate and Cost-Effective Micro Sun Sensor based on CMOS Black Sun Effect

Intelligent System Research Institute, Sungkyunkwan University, Seobu-ro 2066, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do 16419, Korea
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
This paper is an extended version of our paper published in proceeding of 2017 IEEE Sensor, Glasgow, UK, 29 October–1 November 2017 “A cost-effective micro sun sensor based on black sun effect”.
Sensors 2019, 19(3), 739;
Received: 16 January 2019 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 7 February 2019 / Published: 12 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
PDF [13689 KB, uploaded 12 February 2019]


An accurate and cost-effective micro sun sensor based on the extraction of the sun vector using a phenomenon called the “black sun” is presented. Unlike conventional image-based sun sensors where there is difficulty in accurately detecting the sun center, the black sun effect allows the sun center to be accurately extracted even with the sun image appearing irregular and noisy due to glare. This allows the proposed micro sun sensor to achieve high accuracy even when a 1 mm × 1 mm CMOS image sensor with a resolution of 250 × 250 pixels is used. The proposed micro sun sensor is implemented in two application modes: (1) a stationary mode targeted at tracking the sun for heliostats or solar panels with a fixed pose of single image sensor of 1 mm × 1 mm × 1.74 mm in size and (2) a non-stationary mode targeted at determining the orientation of moving platforms with six sensors on the platform, which is configured in an icosahedron geometry of 23 mm × 23 mm × 12 mm in size. For the stationary mode, we obtained an accuracy of 0.013° by applying Kalman filter to the sun sensor measurement for a particular sensor orientation. For the non-stationary mode, we obtained an improved accuracy of 0.05° by fusing the measurements from three sun sensors available at any instant of time. Furthermore, experiments indicate that the black sun effect makes the precision of sun vector extraction independent of the sun location captured on the image plane. View Full-Text
Keywords: sun sensor; black sun effect; icosahedron configuration; sensor fusion sun sensor; black sun effect; icosahedron configuration; sensor fusion

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Saleem, R.; Lee, S. Accurate and Cost-Effective Micro Sun Sensor based on CMOS Black Sun Effect. Sensors 2019, 19, 739.

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