Improved LADAR

Period of Performance: 09/12/2008 - 01/15/2010


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Advanced Optical Systems, Inc.
6767 Old Madison Pike
Huntsville, AL 35806
Principal Investigator


Visually degraded environment (VDE) conditions pose a threat to Navy and Marine Corps helicopter by dramatically decreasing pilots situational awareness. Brownout and whiteout conditions are especially dangerous. Sensors such as laser radar (LADAR) imaging sensors can see through dust, snow and fog by gating past obscurants, but in order to provide the pilot with imagery that most closely resembles what is outside the aircraft, the spatial resolution, range accuracy, and fields of view of existing LADARs must be improved. We will address this by improving an already state-of-the-art real-time flash LADAR system built by Ball Aerospace. We will improve LADAR resolution by fusing its 3D information with 2D information from a high-resolution infrared or visual camera or from an obscurant-penetrating millimeter wave radar, producing resolution on the order of a megapixel visible camera. We will improve range resolution using variable offset delays and intelligent interpolation. We will improve the LADAR s field of view using wide field-of-view optics and a non-inertial scanning system such as counter-rotating Risley prisms. Our improvements will be applied in real time and produce imagery comparable to what the pilot would see outside the helicopter.