Many U.S. Military systems, such as missiles, rely on the Global Positioning System to provide accurate position, orientation and time information while in flight.
When GPS is inaccessible, whether as a result of a malfunction or as a consequence of enemy action, information critical for navigation must be gathered using the missile’s on-board sensors.
DARPA’s Chip-Scale Combinatorial Atomic Navigator effort seeks an atomic inertial sensor to measure orientation in GPS-denied environments. Such a sensor would integrate small size, low power consumption, high resolution of motion detection and a fast start up time into a single package.
“Platforms such as missiles rely on GPS for a variety of information,” explained Andrei Shkel, DARPA program manager. “When GPS is not available gyroscopes provide orientation, accelerometers provide position and oscillators provide timing. The new C-SCAN effort focuses on replacing bulky gyroscopes with a new inertial measurement unit that is smaller, less expensive due to foundry fabrication and yields better performance.”
The inertial measurement unit sought by C-SCAN will co-integrate both solid state and atomic inertial sensors into a single microsystem. This new IMU would benefit from devices with dissimilar physics, yet complementary characteristics: short startup times, and long-term, stable performance.
Before C-SCAN can be built, research is needed to explore the miniaturization and co-fabrication of atomic sensors with solid-state inertial sensors. Algorithms and architectures are sought to seamlessly co-integrate the components. Those wishing to participate in the C-SCAN effort are encouraged to review the full solicitation located at www.fbo.gov.
C-SCAN supports the Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (micro-PNT) program, which is developing micro-technology for self-contained, chip-scale inertial navigation and precision guidance that would greatly reduce the dependence on GPS while enabling uncompromised navigation and guidance capabilities for advanced munitions, various military platforms, under a wide range of operation conditions.