Non-Mechanical Beam Steering Development for UAV Sensors

Period of Performance: 08/05/2014 - 10/09/2015


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc.
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: The focus of this Phase II effort is to deliver a non-mechanical laser beam directional control unit that is small and lightweight, while minimizing power consumption for use on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) laser radar units. Development of small, compact, low-power laser radars on small dynamic platforms is a difficult problem because of the pointing accuracy, open and closed loop scanning rates, angle coverage, and aperture size needed for the optical system. A workable solution is to combine a few techniques to decouple the requirements. By using this approach, coarse- and fine-angle steerers, including mechanical and non-mechanical approaches, are combined to provide the coverage and accuracy needed for the application. The techniques of interest have the ability to scale to large apertures, provide fast and accurate pointing and tracking without greatly complicating the system design, and minimize size, weight and power. In Phase II, Boulder Nonlinear Systems (BNS) will fabricate a prototype beam control subsystem designed for UAV operational environments and deliver this subsystem to our transition partner. In Phase III, the transition partner will verify performance, integrate the subsystem into a laser radar sensor and test in a near-operational environment. BENEFIT: Optical pointing and tracking is a major issue for a variety of applications including free space optical communications, remote sensing, and weapon guidance. The proposed beam control subsystem will reduce the size, weight, and power requirements of UAV laser radars units using less expensive, less complicated, more reliable components while providing high-speed, random access beam control. The technology has the potential to provide a cost savings of approximately $99M over a five year period compared to current mechanical beam steering assemblies.