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Low Size, Weight, Power, and Cost (SWAP-C) Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) System

Description:

Research over the last decade has significantly reduced the Size, Weight, and Power (SWAP) of atomic vapor magnetometers, [1, 2] making these sensors a good match for unmanned Navy vehicles. This topic seeks innovative designs that incorporate such magnetometers into a Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) system, including both the hardware and software to detect, localize, and track a magnetic dipole target from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Traditionally, MAD systems must account for a variety of noise sources such as sensor noise, platform noise, geomagnetic noise, and movement in gradient fields so this effort must contain additional sensors to remove these noise sources. This MAD system is envisioned to provide a common sensor for use on Tier 1 UAVs as well as being towed from helicopters. The hardware goals are driven by the intended application for small UAVs. As such, the total field magnetometer should be commensurately small: sensor head size <100cc, electronics module <500cc, low-power (<5W total objective), and low-weight (<5 lbs. total). The noise floor should match or improve upon current commercially available sensors at 0.35 pT/rtHz between 0.01-100 Hz with a raw heading error <300 pT, compensated heading error <10 pT (objective), and remove dead zones inherent in traditional total field magnetometer designs.[3] The system should operate in all Earth’s field conditions (roughly 25 μT – 75 μT). Proposals should include the performance of the existing total field magnetometer planned for incorporation into the MAD system and describe modifications that would be needed to meet these performance goals. The cost objective should be less than $10k in small quantities (~10/year). To reduce noise, additional sensors are usually included in a MAD system: a 3-axis vector magnetometer to compensate for platform noise, [4] a 3-axis accelerometer, GPS inputs, and other sensors. These additional sensors should be in-line with an overall compact low-power design, but need not be included in the SWAP parameters above. Software should be able to detect, localize, and track a magnetic dipole target using GPS coordinates that are not necessarily straight and level flight. The algorithms should allow for the possibility of geomagnetic noise reduction with an external reference magnetometer. Computer intensive computations such as heading error correction, noise suppression, and MAD algorithms need not be done in the magnetometer and can be done in an external computer.[5] PHASE I: Define a concept for a prototype compact MAD system. Demonstrate a total field magnetometer meeting the 0.35 pT/rtHz noise performance goal at 1 Hz in a bench top system. Include a 3-axis vector magnetometer and demonstrate an ability to compensate heading error. Develop software approaches for magnetic dipole detection and localization. Investigate noise reduction techniques to be implemented in the software and identify the associated hardware components. PHASE II: Based upon the Phase I effort, construct a prototype MAD system and a reference magnetometer. Verify the MAD system survives expected test-flight conditions and meets performance goals in Earth’s background field using the reference. Refine the software and integrate it with the hardware. Conduct a flight test to demonstrate the prototype MAD system’s performance against a simulated target. PHASE III: This system will be an integral part of the MAD UAV. Work with the UAV Primes to integrate, test and productionize the MAD system. Conduct operational demonstrate of the system’s performance against a relevant target at sea. PMA-264 is the expected transition sponsor of the MAD UAV technology to be deployed on the P-8A for ASW MAD. Tasking would include: additional ruggedization of the system for Fleet use, implementation of cost reduction measures to provide a minimal-cost product for Navy acquisition, and integration of the system onto an ASW vehicle.
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