Autonomous Lost on Earth Navigation System

Period of Performance: 07/31/2013 - 10/30/2015


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physical Optics Corp.
1845 West 205th Street Array
Torrance, CA 90501
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to advance the development of the Autonomous Lost on Earth Navigation (ALOEN) technology proven feasible in Phase I. ALOEN is a stand-alone, compact (12 in. x 10 in. x 8 in.), low-weight (6.4 lb), and power-conserving (17 W) system that is capable of providing better than 2.8 m circular error probable (CEP) performance (Kalman filtered) in a lost-on-Earth scenario wherein no prior position knowledge is available. In Phase I, POC completed the design of the ALOEN system through theoretical analysis, simulation, and field testing. In Phase II, POC will finalize the ALOEN design and build a system-level prototype. The ALOEN algorithms will be tested through a star image simulation environment that includes realistic flight, electro-optics and environment models. We will test the device and perform a flight test using a high-altitude balloon. We will evaluate the prototype performance and demonstrate navigation precision similar to that of the Global Positioning System (GPS). At the end of Phase II, we will deliver the prototype and a comprehensive report, including simulations, to the Air Force. The Phase II result will be a technology readiness level (TRL)-4 prototype ready for transition to productization and certification. BENEFIT: The ALOEN system will provide a high-altitude platform with the capability to estimate its geodetic position with GPS-like accuracy in a GPS-denied environment. This will allow the platform to perform accurate and reliable midcourse navigation corrections to minimize target location errors. For military applications, this system could act as a backup to a GPS on a weapon, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or even a high-altitude manned aircraft. In the commercial sector, the proposed system could be used as a backup to GPS on passenger as well as cargo aircraft. NASA could use this system for its high-altitude vehicles, as well as for navigation on the lunar surface or surfaces of other planets where a GPS constellation has not been set up.