Ultra-Low SWaP and Low Cost Micro-LADAR Devices for Guided Sub-Munitions
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 and cost is enabled by replacing expensive, heavy and power consumptive mechanics with Vescent"s proprietary chip-scale non-mechanical laser scanner. 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). In this phase II we will demonstrate larger aperture EO scanning, which will enable utilizing the EO scanner for the return optical path, and demonstrate micro-LADAR operation at 1550 nm. To both mitigate risks and to explore alternate micro-ladar system architectures, we will pursue two parallel development paths. For the first path, we will develop a micro-ladar system with an EO scanned laser launch and a segmented APD or PIN"staring"sense array. For the second path, we will develop a micro-ladar system with both an EO scanned laser launch and an EO scanned ladar return. In this phase II we will design, build, and deliver a low SWaP micro-ladar prototype system. 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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