DARPA to develop microscale navigational gyro for guided munitions and hand-held devices

ARLINGTON, Va., 29 April 2010. Navigation and guidance experts at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are asking industry to develop a microscale gyroscope for precision-guided munitions, ships, vehicles, aircraft, and even individual combatants.

ARLINGTON, Va., 29 April 2010.Navigation and guidance experts at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are asking industry to develop a miniature gyroscope for precision-guided munitions, ships, vehicles, aircraft, and even individual combatants.

DARPA on Wednesday issued a broad agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-10-39) for the three-year Microscale Rate Integrating Gyroscope (MRIG) program, which seeks to develop a microscale vibrating-structure gyroscope to measure rotation over a wide range of dynamic conditions.

Essentially, DARPA wants to develop a component for self-contained chip-scale inertial navigation and precision guidance systems that would help eliminate the 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 than is a conventional rotating gyroscope of similar accuracy.

DARPA scientists envision these micro sensors to be 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.

The kinds of mechanical shocks, temperatures, vibrations, spin rates and accelerations of guided munitions must not influence the micro gyro's performance, and the device must operate on no more power than a few tens of milliwatts.

In addition, DARPA expects these micro gyros to be fabricated with large-scale manufacturability, not on boutique processes that require individual fabrication of components and subsequent discrete assemblies.

DARPA's primary goal of the MRIG program is to create a vibratory gyroscope able to measure the angle of rotation directly to extend the dynamic range and eliminating the need for integrating the angular rate information. In this way, DARPA researchers expect to eliminate an accumulation of errors due to numerical and electronic integration.

DARPA is looking for industry proposals that involve 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.

Still, rate integrating gyroscope technology has never been demonstrated on the microscale. Rate integrating gyroscope miniaturization, however, offers the potential for developing an inertial navigation system for spin-stabilized missiles, pointing technology for high-g munitions, and azimuth-based target mapping.

Companies interested should send proposal abstracts to DARPA no later than 2 June 2010, and full proposals no later than 20 July 2010.

For questions or concerns, contact the MRIG program manager, Andrei Shkel, by phone at 703-351-8468, by e-mail at DARPA-BAA-10-39@darpa.mil, by fax at 703-812-5051, or by post at DARPA/MTO, ATTN: DARPA-BAA-10-39, 3701 North Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA 22203-1714.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-10-39/listing.html.

More in Defense Executive