Low Cost, Low SWAP Micro-LADAR as Enabled by Revolutionary EO Scanner Technology
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
Vescent Photonics proposes to develop, design and build new scanning based micro-ladar sensors with unprecedented cost and size, weight, and power (SWAP), thereby enabling ladar deployment on previously inaccessible platforms (SUAS, micro-munitions, etc.). This tremendous reduction in SWAP will be accomplished via: i) replacing heavy and power consumptive mechanics with Vescent's revolutionary chip-scale non-mechanical laser scanner, and ii) replacing high power laser transceivers with VCSEL/VCSOA and/or other micro-ladar transceivers. Notably, the Vescent EO scanner provides previously unrealizable performance such as sub-millisecond scanning, full 2-D operation with only three control electrodes, and a remarkably wide field of view (270 degrees demonstrated). By combining this EO scanner with miniature ladar lasers and electronics we will be circumventing the two foremost impediments to ladar SWAP and cost reduction: the mechanical scanners and the high power lasers. In this phase I we will demonstrate larger aperture EO scanning, which will enable utilizing the EO scanner for the return optical path, voltage tunable lens structures, and demonstrate micro-LADAR operation at 1550 nm. BENEFIT: The ultra-compact steerable LADAR concept and hardware developed in this program has a wide range of relatively near-term and potentially low-cost military (tactical, theater and strategic) and other (surveillance/homeland security) applications. Tactical and surveillance adaptations would be the largest potential near-term markets. We believe that the ultra-compact steerable laser rangefinder approach could be readily and cost effectively adapted to fielding of compact laser radars, coded covert (free-space-optics) line-of-sight communications capabilities and serve as high-accuracy optical trackers for engaging tactical (rockets, mortars and artillery-RAM) targets; RAMs are currently major threats to the US and its allies in the context of theater and urban warfare. Outside of the military deployment, our ultra-compact SAA LADAR system can be instrumental in future Autonomous (Adaptive) Cruise Control systems for the automobile industry. Robotic, autonomous disaster zone LADAR mapping and navigation could also directly benefit from this development research effort. Ad-hoc free-space optical communication networks are also another potential application.
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4865 E. 41st Ave Denver, CO 80216
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