Compact Gyroscope/Accelerometer for Inertial Navigation Based on Light Pulse Atom Interferometry
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
We propose to design a compact inertial sensor based on light pulse atom interferometry that has both single-axis rotation and acceleration outputs. In previous work, members of our team have developed several generations of ultra-high performance sensors that successfully demonstrated this technology in laboratory and field tests. Our design will trade-off performance to reduce size, weight and power, while targeting a bias drift of 100 udeg/h and angle random walk of 100 udeg/sqrt(h), which would outperform the stated program goals by more than an order of magnitude. The fundamental performance limits for our sensor technology leave room for additional orders-of-magnitude improvements with further engineering and development beyond the scope of the Phase I design. BENEFIT: Light pulse atom interferometer (LPA) sensors are expected 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 based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), fiber-optic, or ring laser gyros. The compact gyroscope sensor developed in this work will make substantial improvements in miniaturization, cost reduction, and manufacturability of LPA technology, and is expected to have extremely low bias drift and angle random walk noise. Smaller, cheaper, more robust LPA gyroscopes will be useful for building better performing and more cost-effective inertial navigation systems for 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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