Business

September 25, 2012

Northrop Grumman to improve performance of MEMS inertial sensors for DARPA

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a subcontract from the University of California, Irvine to help address the long-term calibration of inertial sensors.

Inertial sensors, which measure rotation rate and acceleration, are used in a variety of navigation, pointing and stabilization applications.

Currently, micro-electro-mechanical system inertial instruments are vulnerable to long-term instabilities that cause bias and scale-factor drift, which contribute to measurement inaccuracies.

Under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Primary and Secondary Calibration on Active Layer effort of the Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Micro-PNT) program, Northrop Grumman and the University of California, Irvine will develop an integrated, ultra-miniaturized microsystem (gyroscope and accelerometer) with in-situ calibration capabilities co- located with the inertial sensing elements.

In-situ calibration of inertial devices eliminates the need for components to be recalled from the field for recalibration by the manufacturer and then reinserted into the platform, thereby minimizing the life cycle costs of the system. Additionally, full or mini calibration can be performed just prior to a platform’s launch, offering greater flexibility and an opportunity to compensate for aging effects prior to an instrument’s use.

“This microsystem development represents a significant step forward in the ability to continuously calibrate MEMS inertial sensors, bypassing the need for calibration after dormant periods,” said Charles Volk, vice president and chief technology officer at Northrop Grumman. “Not only may this research help to advance sensor technology and accuracy, but it may also lead to increased affordability.”

DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office, which administers the PASCAL effort, promotes state-of-the-art technology in the component and microsystems areas. The PASCAL effort is part of the Micro-PNT program that aims to develop technology for self-contained, chip-scale inertial navigation and precision guidance.

Founded in 1965, the University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service.

 

 

 




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