Northrop Grumman joins Honeywell in DARPA program to develop precision micro sensor gyro for smart munitions
ARLINGTON, Va., 30 March 2011. Micro-sensor experts at the Northrop Grumman Corp. Electronic Systems segment in Woodland Hills, Calif., are joining a project of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., to develop a miniature gyroscope for precision-guided munitions, ships, vehicles, aircraft, and infantry soldiers. DARPA scientists awarded Northrop Grumman a $4.8 million contract Monday for the three-year Microscale Rate Integrating Gyroscope (MRIG) program.
DARPA is asking microelectronics experts at Northrop Grumman and Honeywell to develop the micro-scale gyro for self-contained chip-scale inertial navigation and precision guidance systems that would help eliminate dependence on the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) or any other external signals for uncompromised navigation and guidance.
A vibrating-structure gyroscope operates on the principle that a vibrating object tends to keep vibrating in the same plane as its support is rotated. It is simpler and cheaper to design and build than is a conventional rotating gyroscope of similar accuracy, DARPA officials say.
DARPA scientists are asking the two companies to develop these kinds of micro sensors as crucial parts of advanced inertial measurement units, and small enough for guided munitions, hand-held devices, and add-in portable guidance, navigation, and control units.
Northrop Grumman and Honeywell experts will develop micro-gyros that are not influenced by the kinds of mechanical shocks, temperatures, vibrations, spin rates and accelerations that are common in guided munitions. The devices that Northrop Grumman and Honeywell scientists will develop are expected to operate on no more power than a few tens of milliwatts.
DARPA's primary goal of the MRIG program is to create a vibratory gyroscope able to measure the angle of rotation directly such that the gyros will extend their dynamic range, as well as eliminate the need for integrating angular rate information. In this way, DARPA and Honeywell researchers expect to eliminate an accumulation of errors due to numerical and electronic integration.
DARPA scientists are asking Northrop Grumman and Honeywell to develop isotropic two-degree-of-freedom resonators -- especially microscopic 3-D shell resonators -- which are spheres, wine-glass shaped structures, or any spatially distributed shells with an axis of symmetry.
Rate integrating gyroscopes have high dynamic range, accuracy due to direct measurement of the angle of rotation, and ability to operate interchangeably in the whole angle and angular rate modes, DARPA experts point out.
The two companies have substantial challenges ahead, as rate integrating gyroscope technology has never been demonstrated on the microscale level. Rate integrating gyroscope miniaturization would offer the potential for developing an inertial navigation system for spin-stabilized missiles, pointing technology for high-G munitions, and azimuth-based target mapping.
For more information contact Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems online at www.es.northropgrumman.com, or Honeywell Aerospace Microelectronics & Precision Sensors (formerly the Honeywell Solid-State Electronics Center) online at www.ssec.honeywell.com, or DARPA at www.darpa.mil.