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Archangel Systems Inc. announced today it has been awarded a Phase IV contract to continue development of a Navigation Grade version of the MARS device and MARS-based Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), under the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Navigation Grade Integrated Micro-Gyroscope (NGIMG) program. 

The general purpose of this competitively awarded DARPA contract is to investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. The specific purpose is to develop a micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) implementation of NGIMG, with the ultimate objective being the realization of tiny, low-power, rotation rate sensors capable of achieving performance commensurate with requirements for GPS-denied navigation of small platforms, including individual soldiers, unmanned (micro) air vehicles, unmanned underwater vehicles, and even tiny (e.g., insect-sized) robots. By harnessing the advantages of micro-scale miniaturization, the NGIMG program is expected to yield tiny (if not chip-scale) gyroscopes with navigation-grade performance characteristics Successful completion of this 54 month project will enable completely autonomous navigation without any reliance on GPS. Project goals are gyro bias stability of 0.1°/hr and angular random walk of 0.005°/hr in a one cubic cm package using less than 100mW of power for a six axis IMU.

NGIMG-enabled devices with characteristics similar to that listed above and achieved via low cost, batch fabrication methods are expected to enable a myriad of strategic capabilities. In particular, the sheer portability of the rotation rate sensors sought by the NGIMG program should introduce a host of new applications and deployment scenarios, including wearable inertial measurement units (IMU's) for dismounted warriors capable of GPS-denied navigation for lengthy periods; small IMU's for unmanned air and underwater vehicles, and for guidance of small, long-range munitions; and tiny IMU's for insect-like robots intended for a variety of future applications, including first warning perimeter sensing. Together with chip-scale atomic clocks (CSAC's) and location-tracking algorithms that harness additional kinetic information (e.g., biokinetic), chip-scale NGIMG's should allow man-portable dead-reckoning devices with unprecedented precision, with and without GPS. By enabling a swelling of applications, as illustrated above, miniaturization via NGIMG technology is expected to generate a need for high volume manufacturing that, together with wafer-level batch fabrication methods enabled by MEMS technology, should substantially lower the cost of miniature navigation systems, and thus, further fuel expansion of the application suite for NGIMG technology. 

Archangel Systems, Inc. is a private, closely held Alabama Corporation, headquartered in Auburn, Alabama. Formed in 1992, the company specializes in Inertial Sensing Systems & Solutions for Aerospace, Automotive, and Military Applications. Areas of expertise include sensor development, hardware & software development, as well as FAA certification of both hardware & software to the highest levels of criticality. For additional information, please visit www.archangel.com.

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