Gyroscopic Inertial Micro-Balance Attitude Locator (GIMBAL)

Award Information
Department of Defense
Air Force
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
AF 09-140
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Research Support Instruments
20 New England Business Center, Andover, MA, 01810
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
John Kline
Group Leader, Microtechnologies
(732) 329-3700
Business Contact:
Christopher Rollins
Vice President
(301) 306-0010
Research Institution:
Research Support Instruments, Inc. (RSI) proposes the Gyroscopic Inertial Micro-Balance Attitude Locator (GIMBAL), a MEMS gyro concept presented at the SENSIAC Joint Precision Azimuth Sensing Symposium, to address the problem of rate gyroscope drift, a particular issue for antenna pedestals. While macro-size gyroscopes, including fiber ring gyros, have achieved navigation-grade performance, Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) gyros have been limited to rate-grade performance, particularly in long-term bias drift. GIMBAL is particularly suited to addressing this, since it does not rely on the vibratory structure common in MEMS gyros. Instead, it uses a true spinning wheel for the proof mass, which will not have any mechanical linkages between axes, causing a bias drift much smaller than encountered in current MEMS-sized gyros. The Phase I program will involve design, fabrication, and test of the key encapsulated micro-gyro technology; system design of the complete rate gyro sensor including identification of risks and study of concept feasibility/other technologies; and characterization of key technology performance. In Phase II, a complete gyro sensor will be designed and built, and detailed tests and demonstrations will resolve design issues for the final design. The result will be a rate gyro that will address a critical need in antenna pedestal platforms. BENEFIT: This project will prove the concept of embedding a gyro rotor in a micro-cavity as a new spinning-wheel-based rate gyro unit for an antenna pedestal platform. Accelerometers have long held the lead in commercialized MEMS sensors, and MEMS inertial sensors in general have similar market potential. Other than guidance for antenna pedestals, general navigation will be the first larger-scale market, where the high performance will be required and a higher initial unit cost will be acceptable. Once unit costs reduce due to large production quantities, the automotive markets will become a viable target; these involve the purchase of millions of IMU's each year In addition to antenna pedestal applications, the GIMBAL gyros will be applicable to DOD applications ranging from personnel tracking to munitions guidance. The target U.S. government markets will be the US Air Force, Army, and Navy (for use in antenna tracking and navigation), as well as DOD components (SOCOM, for example) that need more specialized tracking capabilities.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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