DARPA To Use Honeywell Next Gen Inertial Sensor Technology In Navigation Applications

Honeywell is creating the next generation of inertial sensor technology that will be used in future for both commercial and defense navigation applications. The sensor project has been funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under the Precise Robust Inertial Guidance for Munitions: Thermally Stabilized Inertial Guidance for Munitions program.

The new sensors have shown to be greater than an order of magnitude more accurate than Honeywell’s HG1930 inertial measurement unit (IMU) product – a tactical-grade product with more than 150,000 units currently in use.

IMU’s uses gyroscopes, accelerometers, and electronics to give precise rotation and acceleration data to enable a vehicle system to “know” where it is, its direction, and its speed – even without GPS signals. The new sensors are based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology to precisely measure motion.

“Typically, MEMS inertial sensors have been on the lower end of the performance scale, but this latest milestone shows we are changing that paradigm,” said Jenni Strabley, director of offering management for Inertial Sensors, Honeywell Aerospace. “With this next-generation MEMS technology, we’re increasing performance without having to significantly change the size or weight of the IMU. This is a game-changer for the navigation industry, where customers need highly accurate solutions but cannot afford to compromise on weight or size.”

The new MEMS sensors are expected to be used for a  broad range of applications in autonomous land and air vehicles for both military and commercial customers.

“Now that we have demonstrated that MEMS is capable of reaching these incredibly precise performance levels, it is the perfect time to start talking with potential users about how this technology could help their applications,” Strabley said. “We believe this new technology will have a variety of applications, such as onboard future vehicles that will fly in urban environments where lightweight, extremely precise navigation is critical to safer operations. Additionally, there are other applications that haven’t been invented yet but may be enabled by these types of technology innovations.”