Military Embedded Systems

DARPA miniaturized IMU to be developed by Northrop Grumman


June 10, 2014

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

WOODLAND HILLS, CA. Northrop Grumman engineers will be developing a miniaturized navigation grade inertial system for use by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Chip-Scale Combinatorial Atomic Navigator (C-SCAN) program. It is part of U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center contract.

The C-SCAN program looks to integrate micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) and atomic inertial guidance technologies into one inertial measurement unit (IMU), providing stable long-term performance with fast start-up time. The integrated navigation system seeks to combine inertial sensors with dissimilar but complementary physics properties, delivering an affordable solution for GPS-challenged environments.

Under the cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with an initial value of $648,000, Northrop Grumman engineers will develop a miniaturized IMU for the C-SCAN program by merging bulk acoustic wave MEMS gyro and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) gyro technologies. This includes maturing the NMR gyro, reducing the package's current size, and designing a new precision optical accelerometer. The contract has a potential value of $13.4 million with multiple options after the first 12‑month base contract.

DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office administers the C-SCAN effort, which is part of the Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing program that looks to develop micro-technology for self-contained, chip-scale inertial navigation and precision guidance, eliminating GPS dependence . Potential applications include targeting, positioning, guidance, navigation and smart weapons.


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