Since its inception, GPS has provided countless organizations and individuals with precision location data. However, because it is susceptible to jamming, one government agency is looking to develop technology that can help mitigate disruptions.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently awarded Honeywell a contract to develop powerful but small inertial navigation tools, said Chris Lund, director of product marketing at Honeywell Aerospace.
“There is a growing need for increased performance from inertial sensors, both accelerometers and gyroscopes,” he said.
The company plans to improve the accuracy of its HG1930 inertial measurement unit by three orders of magnitude, Honeywell said.
Current systems produced are about 100 cubic inches in size. Under the program, Honeywell plans to miniaturize it to 5 cubic inches, Lund said. It will also work to reduce its power consumption from 10 watts to 3 watts.
By reducing the tools’ size, weight and power, they can be used on many more systems than currently possible, he said.
“They’re equally applicable to both commercial and military platforms,” Lund said. “On the commercial side you could see them in industrial applications that need very precise navigation information and commercial aviation applications.”
For the military, they could be particularly useful on unmanned aircraft, he said.
The program will include two phases. The first phase will end in 2017, and DARPA will decide whether or not to move the program into the second phase. At that time, Honeywell will have to prove that it either has a path to developing the sensor capability expected in the program or that it can already explicitly demonstrate it with accelerometers and gyroscopes, he said.
Honeywell has worked in inertial sensor technology since the 1960s, he noted. Many of their products are used throughout the commercial and military sector. The sensors are used to guide many unmanned underwater vehicles, which cannot use radio frequencies below the surface.
Should the program continue through phase two and meet its goals, Honeywell expects to sell the system as a product, Lund said.Photo: Honeywell