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DARPA Develops Navigation Without GPS

Posted: April 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Technoid Gadget News | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on DARPA Develops Navigation Without GPS

DARPA Develops Navigation Without GPSGPS – Global Positioning System – has served the direction-challenged well, but the satellite based system some pretty outstanding drawbacks. Ever tried using your satnav in a tunnel? …or how-about something as simple as retrieving directions indoors??.

These hiccups might be a slight inconvenience for joe-public, but it’s downright disastrous for the military, the original GPS users.

Our favourite gadget-factory – DARPA – is addressing such concerns with the development of a completely self-sufficient navigation system, one that aids navigation when GPS is down.

DARPA researchers working at the University of Michigan have taken a clever approach with the creation of a – TIMU – Timing and Inertial Measurement Unit. The unit, a single chip containing a six axis IM – three gyroscopes and three accelerometers – integrating with a highly accurate master clock, all in a system  smaller than a 5 cent coin.

The chip integrates breakthrough devices from DARPA’s übercool – Micro-Technology for Positioning Navigation and TimingMicro-PNT program. The TIMU prototype gives the device the superneat ability to gather precise orientation, acceleration and time information to track a user’s position while travelling from point A to B ::::

DARPA Develops Navigation Without GPS

The sensors are squeezed onto a single chip in six micro-fabricated layers that are each just 50 microns thick, which is approximately the thickness of a human hair. At just 10 cubic millimetres in size, the entire package fits onto a US penny several times.

Three pieces of information are needed to navigate between known points ‘A’ and ‘B’ with precision, orientation, acceleration and time. DARPA’s clever chip integrates devices that measure all three simultaneously. This elegant design is accomplished through new fabrication processes in high-quality materials for multi-layered, packaged inertial sensors and a timing unit.

“Both the structural layer of the sensors and the integrated package are made of silica,” Program Manager Andrei Shkel said. “The hardness and the high-performance material properties of silica make it the material of choice for integrating all of these devices into a miniature package. The resulting TIMU is small enough and should be robust enough for applications (when GPS is unavailable or limited for a short period of time) such as personnel tracking, handheld navigation, small diameter munitions and small airborne platforms.”

DARPA has a serious eye on the future – as always – it’s goal with Micro-PNT Program is to develop technology for self-contained, chip-scale inertial navigation and precision guidance. Check more breakthroughs from Micro-PNT include new microfabrication methods and materials for inertial sensors :: www.darpa.mil

source: darpa

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