Research firms join DARPA ASPN programme

Research firms join DARPA ASPN programme


US: Three US research firms are joining a project to develop a prototype sensor fusion system for land, sea, and airborne applications that can accept inputs from several kinds of navigation sensors so that warfighters can maintain navigation capability with or without GPS satellite navigation.

Joining the second phase of the All Source Positioning and Navigation (ASPN) programme of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are Vesperix Corporation, SRI International and Systems & Technology Research.

SAIC Inc. won the initial contract for the DARPA ASPN phase 2 project, which seeks to develop algorithms and a prototype sensor-fusion system to enable low cost navigation for military users on any operational platform and in any environment, with or without GPS.

Vesperix won a $107,229 contract and SRI won a $1.3 million contract and Systems & Technology Research won a $313,790 contract for DARPA ASPN phase 2. Awarding the contract were officials of the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on behalf of DARPA. SAIC won the initial $2.9 ASPN phase 2 contract.

In the initial phase of the ASPN program, scientists from Draper Lab and Argon ST concentrated on developing the architectures, abstraction method, and navigation filtering algorithms necessary for rapid navigation sensors integration and reconfiguration.
In essence, the companies showed that an adaptable, plug-and-play capability for navigation systems is achievable. Now SAIC, Vesperix, SRI, and Systems & Technology Research will bring this technology to the next level.

In the program”s second phase researchers from the four companies will continue algorithm development build a prototype ASPN system for demonstration and evaluation. The companies not only will develop real-time algorithms, but also will field these algorithms on size-, weight-, and power (SWaP)-representative prototype hardware able to accept an arbitrary set of inputs, regardless of native application of the sensors used.

Most current navigation systems rely on a combination of GPS, inertial measurement unit (IMU), and sometimes other navigation sensors to provide accurate positioning and navigation information, DARPA researchers say.

Military navigation systems designers want to improve their systems by combining different sensors, such as laser rangers, cameras, and magnetometers. The problem, however, is today”s navigation sensors usually have custom filtering for their specific sensors, and are not readily adaptable to new capabilities and threats.

The ASPN program seeks to develop new navigation sensor fusion technology that can accommodate any combination of sensors in a plug-and-play fashion to create robust positioning and navigation technology in the face of new battlefield conditions and missions, while reducing costs.

Source: Military Aerospace