Military Embedded Systems

AI and high-tech optics research to advance laser weapons systems


December 14, 2021

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Stock image.

MONTEREY, Calif. Researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) are currently researching ways to reduce atmosphere-induced aberrations with the intent to provide high-energy laser weapon systems with a chance to reach a target farther away in a deep turbulence environment.

The multidisciplinary team completed the development of a $3 million High-Energy Laser Beam Control Research Testbed (HBCRT) in 2016. The group is made up of NPS researchers and students with assistance from non-NPS researchers from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Lockheed Martin, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Dahlgren.

Officials claim that the HBCRT consists of Acquisition, Tracking, Pointing (ATP), and adaptive optics systems. The deformable mirror received from Northrop Grumman will be aimed at furthering the deep turbulence adaptive optics research. Upon successful testing of deep turbulence compensation, the deforable mirror will be integrated into the HBCRT.

The team is also working on incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) technology for automatic target detection, classification, aimpoint selection and maintenance. Aimpoint has been executed in the past by human operators, but officials claim that current AI work could select the aimpoint of a single target faster than a human. The team is also working on predicting atmospheric turbulence and the correction of target image aberrations using AI.


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