SBIR Phase II: A High Performance Environment Resistant Inertial Measurement Unit for Commercial Navigation Applications

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$749K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

ePack, Inc.
600 S. Wagner Road, Suite 10 Array
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is an environment resistant inertial measurement unit (eIMU) for commercial/industrial applications. This eIMU is a miniaturized navigation device that will enable enhanced GPS navigation down to centimeter accuracy and will replace GPS when it is not available or reliable. The eIMU will enable navigation directly to specific items in malls, grocery stores or department stores. It will also enable reliable navigation for police or fire fighters inside buildings in emergency situations. This navigation chip would enable a wide range of precision manufacturing and assembly robots. It would also enable the navigation of autonomous vehicles that can be used by police and homeland security in addition to commercial applications, such as real estate and smart agriculture. The eIMU could also be used to help map mines and to aid in oil exploration. In the medical industry, the eIMU could be used for surgical robots and wheel chairs. Scientific applications include miniaturize micro- and nano- satellites; and autonomous vehicles for underwater exploration. Overall, the eIMU targets making precision navigation small and affordable enough to be used throughout our society for enhanced industrial, security, scientific and personal applications. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project develops a new environment resistant inertial measurement unit (eIMUs). Inertial measurement units (IMUs) consist of accelerometers and gyroscopes which work together for navigation and orientation measurements. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) inertial (motion) sensors are now used for a wide range of consumer applications, but can?t be used for precision navigation because of their extreme environmental sensitivity. In particular, the measurement (bias) stability of these sensors is extremely sensitive to temperature, humidity and stress?making it very challenging to us them for precision navigation and machine control. The proposed eIMU will address this by building a micromachined physics package around the sensitive MEMS sensors in order to actively control their environment independent of environmental factors. The technical challenges include: i) developing a process for reliably assembling the IMU dies in to the physics package; ii) optimizing the physics package for temperature stability and in order to prevent it from introducing any noise to the IMU and; iii) optimizing software algorithms for reducing the power required for environmentally stabilizing the IMU. This packaging technology will also be generic and applicable to other sensor systems and technologies.