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Innovative Packaging to Achieve Extremely Light Weight Sensor Pod Systems


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Sensors 

OBJECTIVE: Develop extremely light weight Pod capable of supporting modular sensor components for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle without sacrificing strength and durability. 

DESCRIPTION: The Navy currently designs, tests and procures new Pods for each new airborne sensor that is developed. With movement toward Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) as new platforms for sensors and weapons, the practice of a design for each new sensor is unrealistic and highlights the need for an innovative and lightweight, modular solution. All systems to be carried by UAVs must carefully consider the size and weight restrictions imposed by the UAVs limited capacities. UAV endurance, for example, is significantly reduced as sensor weight is added to the platform. Novel approaches for mounting sensor components, and system packaging, and assembling could lead to the use of extremely light weight, modular sensors. Versatility, cost of manufacture, vibration dampening, strength, durability and low coefficient of thermal expansion are all important considerations of a new, light weight packaging approach. General Pod Characteristics include everything but the modular components. An extremely light weight Pod solution is sought that can meet the following requirements. Pod Dimensions- o Length “ 7 feet, Width -15 inches, Height -16 inches o Shape “ Rectangular with maximum of 1.5 inch radius on the corners The Pod should be equipped with 14-inch spaced suspension lugs for MH-60R BRU 14/A compatible mounting. The Pod must attach to the platform via BRU-14/A attachment points [Ref 3]. The Pod should provide interface connection for data and power [Ref 2]. Pod maximum of 125 lb. including the mounting system for modular components, but not the modular components Pod should minimize vibration from the aircraft to the Pod Mounting system for undefined modular components should be capable of supporting top, bottom and side mounts throughout the Pod Mounting system for modular components should minimize vibration from the Pod to the modular components Pod must be capable of handling up to 175 lb. sensor weight Pod should have multiple access ports on top and side for installation and removal of modular components Pod should be sealed from the external environment and maintain 0.5 to 1 psig nitrogen internal pressure Pod should provide connections for Nitrogen purging/pressurization while simultaneously venting Pod should provide internal humidity measurement with an external display Pod should provide internal cooling capable of continuously removing 375 watts of heat to the exterior of the pod without external air flow into the Pod Pod should maintain the internal temperature at 65 F +/- 5 F for a 1 kilowatt internal head load Pod should have 16 inch horizontal by 12 inch vertical access covers on one side. Separation between covers should be minimized. Access panels should provide quick access to the modular components and must seal air tight when closed The complete Pod including access panels and vibration isolation must meet endurance requirements for 6000 hours of operation without maintenance. Shock and vibration resistance should be per [Ref 1] and [Ref 3]. The Pod should provide electrical bonding to the Pod structure via a continuous low impedance path from the modular components structural ground to the Pod Structure. 

PHASE I: Demonstrate the feasibility for the development of an extremely light weight Pod capable of supporting modular sensor components. Demonstrate the proposed concept through validated modeling and simulation and identify the primary technical risks of the concept. 

PHASE II: Design a full-scale Pod prototype based upon knowledge gained during Phase I. Accessibility of the internal compartment will be designed to satisfy the Navy's need to ensure compatibility with the new sensor component and in field service requirement. Fabricate full-scale prototype Pod for evaluation and demonstration by the Navy. 

PHASE III: Refine final design and specifications, as needed. Address ground evaluation and prepare the Pod for flight approval and testing. Produce two Pods for certification. Assist in obtaining certification for flight on a NAVAIR aircraft. Private Sector Commercial Potential: Innovative, modular, light-weight packaging for airborne sensors can be applied to several commercial applications such as terrain mapping, urban mapping and planning and agriculture and forest management. 


1. MIL-STD-810G. (2008). Department of Defense Test Standard Method, Section 2, p514.6C1 “ 514.6C22, p516. Retrieved from

2. MIL-STD-1760E. (2007). Class II Umbilical Interface. Department of Defense Interface Standard, Aircraft/Store Electrical Interconnection System. Retrieved from

3. MIL-STD-8591 CHG-1 (2012). Department of Defense Design Criteria Standard, Airborne Stores, Suspension Equipment and Aircraft-Store Interface. Retrieved from


KEYWORDS: Modular Pod; Sensor Pod; Light Weight; Airborne Platform; LIDAR; BRU-14 

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