Scientists at ViaLogy, a leading innovator of real-time, network-centric signal processing platforms for sensor applications in defense, aerospace, homeland security, and the life sciences, has achieved a 10X improvement in the stability and performance of the JPL/Boeing miniature vibratory gyroscope.
Gyros are an integral part of all space control systems, determining the altitude and rotational rates for navigation. They are used to sense and measure rotational motion, often in harsh environments, and must be sufficiently robust to reliably deliver real-time information continuously for several years. For space applications, gyros are made using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors that combine electrical and mechanical components on the same silicon substrate. The design of the miniature device allows for a smaller, lighter, and more durable low-power system.
ViaLogy CEO Michael Kelly explains: "We have developed proprietary signal-processing software to short-circuit complex device engineering and deliver MEMS sensors that are on a par with the performance of much bulkier and entrenched versions. Costs are also greatly reduced."
The development work has been tested on the JPL/Boeing miniature vibratory gyroscope. Dr Karl Yee, JPL manager on the project, comments: "ViaLogy's embedded multi-scale estimator shows a significant real-time improvement of sensor performance. We were able to observe at first hand a 10X improvement using data from our Post Resonator Gyroscope. Indications are that MEMS gyro performance can now match that of traditional ring laser and fiber-optic gyroscopes. This offers exciting prospects for MEMS in general, and I believe the solution can rapidly scale to numerous military and civilian space applications."
The successful development of the gyro-enhancement software opens up an important new market for ViaLogy. The same approach is broadly applicable to other MEMS sensors, including accelerometers, clock, GPS and resonator devices. MEMS is one of the fastest growing technology areas, with annual sales of around $5 billion and growing at a rate of approximately 20% per annum. The MEMS gyro market alone is expected to reach around $800 million by 2010. The growth also comes from high-volume commodity applications in automotive, medical, commercial, and consumer products. Global commercial players include Honeywell, Switech, Bosch, Analog Devices, HGS IMIT, THALES, and Panasonic.
One of the constraints on expansion of MEMS inertial sensors has been bias drift, gain fluctuation, and mechanical variation. ViaLogy has developed a novel active error-suppression technique, for which it has a patent pending.
ViaLogy's Director of Product Development, Dr. Tom George, who previously headed the MEMS technology group at NASA/JPL, says: "We are delighted with the success of the work we have done with JPL and Boeing. We have achieved a milestone that has broad implications. The need for frequent resetting of the self-calibrating MEMS sensors will be greatly reduced and their performance will be consistent throughout their design lifetime. Also, our gyro enhancement solution footprint is compact and designed to be included in silicon modules that can be easily incorporated within the existing manufacturing processes used in commercial MEMS foundries.
"We have taken the lead in applying computational technologies to overcome the signal-to-noise challenge in MEMS."
About ViaLogy: Network Centric Signal Processing.
ViaLogy is a leading innovator of network-centric, real-time signal processing platforms for sensor applications. ViaLogy is currently deploying and designing computational systems, powered by its patented technologies, for applications in life sciences, public safety and security, surveillance, defense, and geoseismology. ViaLogy focuses on market-driven problems where automation, timeliness, quality, and reliability of information processing are essential. ViaLogy's core competency incorporates rapidly and accurately detecting weak signals buried in high-noise background and clutter. This technology can be used to solve problems involving sensor integration and information overload challenges involving video, telephony, and control sensors, as well as for enhancement of numerous signal-processing applications. For more information, visit our Web site.