Compact Gyroscope/Accelerometer for Inertial Navigation Based on Light Pulse Atom Interferometry
We propose to build a compact inertial sensor based on light pulse atom interferometry that has both single-axis rotation and acceleration outputs. In previous work, our staff members have developed several generations of cold atom sensors that achieved ultra-high performance in laboratory and field tests. Our sensor will trade-off some performance margin to reduce size, weight and power, while still significantly outperforming the stated program goals. The fundamental performance limits for our sensor technology leave room for additional orders-of-magnitude improvements with further development beyond the scope of this effort. BENEFIT: Light pulse atom interferometer (LPA) sensors are poised to revolutionize navigation in the same way that atomic clocks have revolutionized timekeeping, as they are based on the same essential technology. LPA gyroscopes have already demonstrated better performance than conventional navigation sensors such as ring laser gyros, fiber-optic gyros, or microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Our proposed compact atom-optic gyroscope will make substantial improvements in miniaturization, cost reduction, and manufacturability of LPA technology, and will achieve extremely low bias drift and angle random walk noise. Smaller, cheaper, more robust LPA gyroscopes will enable higher performance and more cost-effective inertial navigation systems for critical applications such as military and commercial aircraft, missiles, unmanned autonomous vehicles, ships, and submarines. The technological building blocks in these sensors also will benefit commercial sensors used for geophysical exploration and resource management.
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