Air force 16. 1 Small Business Innovation Research (sbir) Proposal Submission Instructions



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The goal of this project is to develop a micro-LADAR sensor exploiting innovations in the sensor, transmitter, scanner, and optics of traditional laser radar sensors. An order of magnitude improvement is needed in order to improve the imaging rate and field of view (FOV), reduce cost, and provide lower size, weight, and power (SWaP) on SUAS platforms similar to PUMA and small rotary wing SUAS platforms, like quadcopters. This, in turn, will make it possible to use SUAS in missions that so far have been unachievable.

SWAP for employing on a SUAS needs to be less than 1 to 2 lbs to be compatible with current sensor payloads. This tremendous reduction in SWAP will only be accomplished with innovations in the key system element. Examples of new technologies that may contribute include vibration resistant chip-scale, non-mechanical laser scanners; replacing traditional high-power laser transceivers with new technologies like high peak power laser diode transceivers; and improving the detector noise performance for longer range with lower transmitter power. From prior research, it is apparent that severe vibration environment, weight, and field of view concerns may be accommodated with new technologies, such as a non-mechanical beam steering (NMBS) device.

Applications for short range, laser-scanned transceivers for SUAS include: collision avoidance/situational awareness; docking/refueling/recovery; landing assistance; terrain-following; target detection; wire detection; and others. Altitude ranges in excess of 100 Meters are desired, with 1000 meters as a goal. Single pass 100-meter wide swath mapping is desired with 3 inch or better resolution. Wire, pipe, nets, and cable detection or classification is desired.

For low altitude terrain-following, forward and down-looking modes drives the scan rate and pulse repetition rate requirements. For collision avoidance and docking, longer ranges/larger apertures are required with 360 degree in elevation coverage and 270 degrees in azimuth (forward and either side). For terrain following/target recognition applications, less than 6 inch spot size is required with less than 3 inch desired. From 300 meters altitude, at least 3 inch pixels should be generated for a vehicle-sized target. Eye-safe operation is desired to facilitate ease in deployment for hand launch applications.

Signal processing should provide for scan nonlinearity due to platform motion, multiple returns from tree canopies or camouflage, and pulse stretching due to clouds or aerosols. The system should discriminate either first or last pulse in the sensor electronics. The microladar should have an interface to both common UAS autopilot systems and to telemetry data links for compressed “imagery” transmission and reporting.

Non-mechanical steering approaches may be the key for the high SUAS vibration environment as they will allow highly efficient and accurate steering, and wide fields of view. They can also make a major impact on future optical systems by increasing pointing speed, providing random access pointing, reducing costs and complexity, and increasing reliability.

Non-mechanical steering systems are ideal candidates for providing these capabilities at high speeds with low SWaP and could be installed on a SUAS to allow the existing designators and imagers to operate, while providing off-boresight situational awareness and tracking capability for multiple target engagements. NMBS devices can provide true random access, enabling selective scanning of a FOV for structured targets, potentially reducing the data transmitted for ISR-type missions.

Ideal goals for a developed compact microlaser system would include:
• 100 meter swath at low altitude
• Eyesafe at altitude
• 1 pass mapping to 3 inch resolution
• Raven/Puma/Stalker/Quadcopter compatibility with current onboard sensors
• Collision Avoidance, Fuzing, Targeting in complex terrain/urban settings and tunnels
• Less than 1 to 2 pounds and 9 cu inches (Puma Bay)
• 12 Volt/24 volt operation
• Quick mode-low density pan and scan for fast look into buildings
• Less than 40 knots to over 150 knots max airspeed at low altitude
• Eye-safe operation
• Real time output via telemetry to remote operator over tactical radios. Overlay of and georegistration of acquired data on Government portable/tablet based GIS systems. Demonstrate ability to achieve resolution and detection goals, telemetry tasks and derive georegistered coordinates, slope/grade and obstruction mapping. The goal is better that 1% accuracy of surface slope and grade.

PHASE I: Investigate critical component technologies leading to a prototype microlaser radar system. Through laboratory and/or field experiment, demonstrate critical components in a breadboard with simulations of applications discussed above. Show maturity of component concepts and system design needed to field a successful prototype in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a system capability for a microladar. Demonstrate integrated brassboard in tower and surrogate flight tests for intended applications. Prototype fieldable versions for in-situ functional performance verification. Collect and analyze return data for multiple SUAS flight scenarios, tree canopy, LZ survey, road following and target imaging. Demonstrate processing requirements in conjunction with imaging and onboard navigation systems to provide real-time operator feedback.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The brassboard prototype will be redesigned to fit in the SWaP constraints of an operational hand-launched SUAS. The system will be flown and evaluated for military mobility applications and commercial surveying applications.

REFERENCES:

1. Analog, non-mechanical beam-steerer with 80 degree field of regard (Proceedings Paper) Author(s): Scott R. Davis; George Farca; Scott D. Rommel; Alan W. Martin; Michael H. Anderson, SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6971; Acquisition, Tracking, Pointing, and Laser Systems Technologies XXII, Steven L. Chodos; William E. Thompson, Editors, 24 March 2008.

2. Miniature Laser Rangefinders and Laser Altimeters, J. Geske, M. H. MacDougal, R. P. Stahl, Aerius Photonics, Ventura, CA, USA, J. Wagener, US Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin AFB, FL, USA and D. R. Snyder, US Air Force, Crestview, FL, USA; 2008 IEEE Avionics Fiber-Optics and Photonics Conference, Avionics Fiber-Optics & Photonics Conference, San Diego, California, 30 September - 2 October 2008.

3. Sense and Avoid for Small UAS, David Maroney, Robert Bolling; MITRE Corp; AUVSI DC Capitol Chapter; http://www.auvsidccapitol.net/images/UAS-Innov-Exch-for-AUVSIDC.pdf.

KEYWORDS: microladar, laser radar, automated refueling, laser altimeter, laser mapping, laser aided navigation, collision avoidance, non-mechanical beam steering, 3D LADAR, flash imaging, non-mechanical, beam steering



AF161-100

TITLE: Multi-Axis Precision Seeker-Laser Pointing Gimbal

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Weapons

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation and within the AF Component-specific instructions. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the AF SBIR/STTR Contracting Officer, Ms. Gail Nyikon, gail.nyikon@us.af.mil.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a line-of-sight stabilized miniature gimbal for a nose-mount application in a small weapon/unmanned air vehicle (UAV) that can precisely point a laser rangefinder, laser jammer or designator beam via Coude’ Path across all three gimbal axes.

DESCRIPTION: The technologies associated with small weapons and small Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) UAVs and miniaturization of laser radars and laser target markers/designators has progressed rapidly. However, the higher powered versions of these lasers are generally too large to be packaged as a payload component in the small multi-axis gimbals on loitering weapons or small UAVs. This is especially true when considering that the stabilized payload generally contains one or more imaging systems, laser rangefinders, or other components and has severe thermal constraints.

In order to minimize aerodynamic drag and to provide the required field of regard (FOR), the use of a nose-mounted, three-axis gimbal is been determined to be the preferred configuration(roll, pitch, yaw) with a “fourth” or half axis referring to beam stabilization. In this configuration the outer gimbal axis would be aligned with the roll axis of the UAV; the middle gimbal axis would be elevation, with the inner axis being cross-elevation.

This would facilitate a required FOR relative to the air vehicle of at least +30 degree / -135 degree elevation, ± 135 azimuth (larger desired). For the particular class of vehicles, the maximum outside diameter of the gimbal would be about five and one-half inches. To enable laser marking/designation capability from a laser that is too large to fit within the payload, but able to be packaged within a 5-inch cylinder, the beam must be projected through the gimbal crossing all three axes via Coude’ Path. Packaging the laser outside the inner gimbal also facilitates a better thermal management solution which is a critical element for extended operation of these small weapon applications.

The types of lasers used in these applications typically have a center wavelength between 1 and 1.5 micrometer, beam diameters of approximately 4 millimeters, beam divergences of approximately one-half milliradian with pulsed energies in excess of 50 millijoules (mJ) (1/2 megawatt to megawatt peak). Masking of the airframe and wings must be accomplished based on gimbal angle and airspace management for eye-safety of aircrews.

A multifocal or zoom optics approach is desirable but recognized to have performance challenges. Thus, the optical elements used to steer the laser beam must be able to withstand these energy densities, and must be kept free of debris and contaminants and environmental issues (condensation) that would degrade performance. The challenges associated with providing the precise alignments to route the laser path through the gimbal, and providing the electrical power and digital signal paths up to1.5 Gb/s for each video stream across the axes in the tight package is formidable.

In conjunction with these packaging challenges, the payload must be stabilized to less than 100 µrad RMS jitter. This stabilization performance must be achieved on UAVs with operating speeds of 100 KTS (weapons with speeds up to 300 KTS), and angular motion rates in excess of 100 degrees per second in gusty environments, in addition to high frequency vibration from the motor and propeller. As in all small platforms weight, power, and cost are critical elements of consideration for endurance, cost, and platform performance (drag, center of gravity, etc.).

The objective is to incorporate an optical and sensor payload with the 1064 nm or other lasers to acquire, track, and illuminate a specific point on the target at slant ranges over 3 kilometers. The optical payload must acquire and precisely track the target and resolve under 0.5 meter aim-point on moving targets day or night.

The target tracker must hold the laser spot aim-point on a particular point of a target, once operator designated, regardless of target motion, change of orientation, and in the presence of background contrast changes and clutter. The tracker must be predictive so that target transition behind and through structures and trees or clouds will adjust anticipated re-acquire point and open search window to identify target by "memory" of characteristics for scenarios with many movers. Closed loop spot position imaging and management with in band sensors target acquisition with IR and other imaging sensors is envisioned.

System weight of 5 pounds for the larger gimbals and 2 pounds for the small gimbal are design goals, and 80 G launch loads, with 8 to 10 G peak to peak -100 Hz vibration from reciprocating engine propulsion. Air speeds for operation range from 40knots to 250knots with altitudes from sea level to greater than 20,000 feet AGL. Temperature ranges in carriage can exceed -40 degrees C to 70 degrees C.

PHASE I: Design a 3+ axis gimbal concept that can steer a high-energy pulsed or CW laser beam & stabilize it with an on-payload imaging systems to less than 100 µrad RMS jitter for small weapons and UAS environments. Show ability to achieve the stabilization & steer the payload & laser over the required FOR, within a diameter of 3 to 5 inches. Demonstrate critical components in lab/field demonstrations.

PHASE II: Carry the concept from Phase I into a form-fit-function prototype. Design, build, integrate and test the prototype with a suitable laser to demonstrate conformance to requirements. Through hardware in the loop and tower/ surrogate flight testing on SUAS or other fixed wing platforms show the pointing and tracking capability to maintain track on moving targets is sufficient to hold the laser spot on the designated point.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Transition into numerous DoD applications and use for laser point to point communications, astronomical, and police applications requiring helicopter and small aircraft precision tracking.

REFERENCES:

1. Brake, N.J., “Control System Development For Small UAV Gimbal”, Thesis, University of California Polytechnic Institute. Http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1884&context=theses.

2. Funk, B.K. et.al., “Enabling Technologies for Small Unmanned Aerial System Engagement of Moving Urban Targets”, JOHNS HOPKINS APL TECHNICAL DIGEST, VOLUME 31, NUMBER 2 (2012) http://www.jhuapl.edu/techdigest/TD/td3102/31_02-Funk.pdf.

3. Ewing, L., “Advances in Laser Technology Bring Potent New Capabilities to Small UAS”, Unmanned Systems — February 2011; http://lasermotive.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/AUVSI-LaserMotiveUS0211.pdf.

4. Otlowski, Daniel, et.al.,“Critical Balancing of Gimbaled Sensor Platforms”, Whtie Paper, Space Electronics LLC, 81 Fuller Way, Berlin, CT 06037-1540. http://www.space-electronics.com/Literature/Balancing_Gimbaled_Sensor_Platforms.pdf.

KEYWORDS: gimbal, laser designator, stabilization, remote piloted vehicle, moving target tracking, shape correlation aimpoint





AF161-101

TITLE: Fiber Optic Networking Technology for Advanced Payload Integration on F-35 and Other Platforms

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Weapons

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation and within the AF Component-specific instructions. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the AF SBIR/STTR Contracting Officer, Ms. Gail Nyikon, gail.nyikon@us.af.mil.

OBJECTIVE: Address the current and future needs of weapon systems' increasing demand for new data communication speed and flexibility. Wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) will provide high speed digital information channels to new weapons and weapon systems.

DESCRIPTION: Information throughput capacity and available information paths for optimal operation of weapon and sensor payloads at platform store stations are limited in the current MIL-STD-1760 (1760) aircraft/store electrical interface. The recent addition of a coaxial cable based Fibre Channel data path to the MIL-STD-1760E revision provides some enhancement to the legacy MIL-STD-1553 data bus capability (which is very slow by today’s standards), but still does not fully satisfy projected long term needs. It has been recognized that two reserved fiber optic contact spaces in the 1760 connector could provide a long term solution to this limitation, using such techniques as WDM to provide a number of high speed digital and wide band analog information channels over the two available physical fiber paths. This would facilitate much closer coupling of weapons and sensors mounted on wing and internal bay store stations with platform avionics, allowing for greater information fusion and enhanced mission capabilities. Improved and/or dedicated processing capabilities for supporting advanced mission capabilities could also be feasibly incorporated into store station mounted devices (weapons, sensors, or pods), alleviating the need for corresponding (and highly expensive and operationally disruptive) platform modifications to take timely advantage of emerging weapon and sensor technology advancements over the platform lifespan.

Some currently ongoing technology development efforts and standardization initiatives are addressing basic definition of a fiber optic interface for future versions of MIL-STD-1760 at the interface level. Effort under this topic would conduct further research into WDM and high speed networking techniques, and develop and demonstrate technology based on such techniques that would provide an underlying technical basis for future implementation of an overall fiber optic network architecture and communication scheme to facilitate efficient and cost effective integration of technically advanced payloads with high information throughput requirements on platform store stations.

PHASE I: The underlying technology for an overall network architecture and signal transfer scheme capable of efficiently supporting the emerging 1760 fiber optic interface definition would be defined and documented through relevant technical research and technology concept development under the Phase I effort.

PHASE II: Laboratory demonstration of a corresponding prototype system (or certain key technology elements of such a system) based on the defined technology concepts would be accomplished in a Phase II follow-on effort.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III efforts would focus on implementing this technology on the existing F-35. Possibly in time to effect Block 5.

REFERENCES:

1. M. Flanegan, K. LaBel, “Small Explorer Data System MIL-STD-1773 Fiber Optic Bus,” NASA Technical Paper 3227, June 1992.

2. P.J. Luers, H.L. Culver, J. Plante, “GSFC Cutting Edge Avionics Technologies for Spacecraft,” AIAA Defense and Civil Space Programs Conference, Paper 98-5238.

3. G.L. Jackson, K.A. LaBel, C.J. Marshall, J.L. Barth, J. Kolasinski, C.M. Seidleck, P.W. Marshall, “Preliminary Flight Results of the Microelectronics and Photonic Test Bed (MPTB) NASA Dual Rate 1773 (DR1773) fiber Optic Data Bus,” GOMAC Conference, 1997.

KEYWORDS: weapons, integration, networking, interfaces





AF161-102

TITLE: High Fidelity Algorithm to Model the Statistical Variations of Ground Target Signatures in Scene Generator Systems

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Weapons

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation and within the AF Component-specific instructions. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the AF SBIR/STTR Contracting Officer, Ms. Gail Nyikon, gail.nyikon@us.af.mil.

OBJECTIVE: Investigate and identify innovative techniques to represent statistical variation of target signature in visible, infrared (including both mid-wave and long-wave infrared), and millimeter wave spectra.

DESCRIPTION: Ground targets like a T-72 tank have signature variations from one version to another due to manufacturing differences, production line variations, and operational usage. The Joint Air Force/Navy weapon programs, such as the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB II), and the Joint Army/Navy Joint Common missile (JCM) use high fidelity scene based target models for infrared and radar applications to facilitate seeker algorithm development, pre-flight and post-flight analysis, and to determine specification performance compliance. While these target models are extremely high fidelity compared to statistical or empirical modeling and simulation techniques, they are currently deterministic in nature and don’t necessarily represent the variations observed in reality.

The Air Force is seeking to investigate and identify innovative techniques to represent the statistical variation of ground target signatures for visible, infrared (including both mid-wave and long-wave infrared), and millimeter wave spectra applications. This would ensure that the algorithms are performing across the expected variation of a ground target rather than a single "finger printed" version of that target. The causes of the statistical variations are likely to be missing or added components, component articulation differences, paint variations, and dents, rust and holes. These variations may result in either local or global changes in the target signatures. It is recommended that the developed tools will provide for the ability to vary the computed signatures in both a local and global manner consistent with the expected variations. The extent of the expected variations should be analyzed by comparing measured and/or computed signatures to the amount feasible. These comparisons need to match expected results within 10% for the passive signatures and 3dB for the radar signatures. The modeling approach used for this effort needs a flexible application programming interface (API) allowing the product to be integrated into high-level scene generation and simulation frameworks. These scene generation and simulation frameworks include the Army’s Common Scene Generator (CSG) simulation, the Air Force’s Fast Line-of-sight Imagery for Targets and Exhaust Signatures (FLITES) simulation, the Air Force’s Irma simulation, and the Army Missile Research Development Engineering Center (AMRDEC) Virtual Target Center (VTC) predictive target models. The government will provide these scene generation and simulation frameworks as needed to assist with integration. The design of the statistically variable target signatures developed by this topic should minimize modifications needed to existing scene generation and simulation frameworks capability, but if changes/upgrades are required to the capabilities to provide efficient interoperability, then the proposer should describe in detail any new interfaces needed to support this effort.

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