DARPA awards GPS-beating sensor development contract

April 21, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded HRL Laboratories LLC (Malibu, Calif.) a $4.3 million contract to develop vibration- and shock-tolerant inertial sensor technology.

The Atlas project is attempting to meet future system accuracy needs without using GPS.

Military missions typically rely on global positioning by satellite (GPS) for positioning, location and timing information. GPS can provide sub-meter accuracy in optimal conditions but signals can be lost due to natural interference, or malicious jamming.

The Atlas project will combine a MEMS Coriolis vibratory gyroscope (CVG) sensor with an atomically-stable frequency reference to exploit the intrinsic accuracy of the atomic hyperfine transition frequency.

Atlas will break performance, cost, size, weight, and power barriers in inertial sensor technology for military positioning, navigation, according to Logan Sorenson, principal investigator in the HRL sensors and materials laboratory "The engineering challenge lies in developing a system architecture to transfer the stability from the atomic reference to the CVG sensor without introducing unintended noise," he said in a statement.

HRL, formerly the Hughes Research Laboratories, was formed as a limited liability company in 1997 and performs R&D into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics for Boeing Company and General Motors and government and commercial contracts.

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