Northrop Grumman to develop navigation-grade MEMS IMU for DARPA programme


The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Northrop Grumman to develop a navigation-grade, advanced microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology-based inertial measurement unit (IMU).

The new IMU is set to be developed as part of DARPA's precise robust inertial guidance for munitions navigation-grade inertial measurement unit (PRIGM: NGIMU) programme.

DARPA's programme aims to develop a cost-effective, small, navigation-grade IMU that integrates advanced MEMS inertial sensors with minimised weight, size and power consumption.

Under a $6.27m contract, Northrop will develop a prototype IMU that senses acceleration and angular motion, providing data used by vehicle control systems for navigation.

"Making inertial navigation units smaller and lighter than ever before will make a huge difference in GPS-denied and highly contested environments."

The company's MEMS-based gyroscopes and accelerometers will be demonstrated to evaluate whether the prototypes meet specified performance and environmental requirements.

Northrop Grumman programme director Alex Fax said: "Due to our expertise as a longstanding, leading inertial instrument provider, we are a natural fit to develop this game-changing technology for warfighters.

"In particular, making inertial navigation units smaller and lighter than ever before will make a huge difference in GPS-denied and highly contested environments."

The contract also includes options, valued at $5.3m, under which the MEMS-based IMU will be assessed for meeting size, weight, power and performance requirements.

Designated the LR-500, the prototype will be tested in a simulated US Department of Defense environment.