By Will Soutter
The University of California, Irvine, has awarded a subcontract to Northrop Grumman to focus on long-term calibration issues of inertial sensors.
Inertial sensors are used for taking measurements of acceleration and rotation rate in a broad range of stabilization, pointing and navigation applications. At present, micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) inertial devices are susceptible to long-term instabilities, resulting in scale-factor drift and bias and eventually causing measurement inaccuracies.
Under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Primary and Secondary Calibration on Active Layer (PASCAL) effort of the Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Micro-PNT) program, the University of California, Irvine, will team up with Northrop Grumman for the development of an integrated, ultra-miniaturized microsystem (accelerometers and gyroscopes) co-located with the inertial sensing components and with in-situ calibration capabilities.
In-situ calibration of inertial instruments avoids the necessity to recall components for recalibration from the field by the producer as well as their reinsertion into the platform, thus reducing the system’s life cycle costs. Moreover, it is possible to perform mini or full calibration before the launch of a platform, thus providing better flexibility and a chance to offset aging effects before the utilization of a device.
The PASCAL effort is managed by DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office, which promotes advanced technology in the microsystems and components areas. The PASCAL effort is an element of the Micro-PNT program, which focuses on the development of technology for chip-scale, self-contained inertial navigation and precision guidance.
Northrop Grumman’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Charles Volk stated that this microsystem development is an important effort in the ability to incessantly calibrate MEMS inertial sensors, eliminating the necessity for calibration subsequent to dormant periods.