NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 S1.07-9700
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Airborne Measurement Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Compact 3D Wind Sensor for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc.
450 Courtney Way, Unit 107
Lafayette, CO 80026 - 8878
(303) 604-0077

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Steve Serati
450 Courtney Way, Unit 107
Lafayette, CO 80026 - 8878
(303) 604-0077

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Mark Tanner
450 Courtney Way, Unit 107
Lafayette, CO 80026 - 8878
(303) 604-0077

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Airborne Measurement Systems is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Accurate wide-area mapping of three-dimensional (3D) wind vectors plays an important role in our ability to understand climate processes, predict weather patterns and hazards, and unravel planetary atmospheric dynamics, both on Earth and extraterrestrially. To this end, NASA has several airborne Doppler lidar platforms (e.g., DAWN, MACAWS) that are capable of mapping 3D wind vectors. These systems are large, heavy, and costly, requiring full-sized crewed aircraft (e.g., DC-8) to operate them and provide 3D wind measurements only along a single direction, thus limiting their utility. To address this barrier, Boulder Nonlinear Systems (BNS) proposes a 3D wind sensor system with low size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements that can be deployed on small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for wider coverage and cheaper operation. The proposed system is built around exclusive electro-optic beam scanner technology and many commercial off-the-shelf components from the telecom industry.
Current mechanical beam scanning solutions are heavy, power hungry, and slow, and constitute a significant portion of the mass of 3D wind sensors and other optical sensor platforms. In contrast, BNS' non-mechanical beam scanner can reduce scanner mass by an order of magnitude and power consumption by three orders of magnitude, while simultaneously providing new mission capabilities such as fast random-access scanning and hemispherical sensor coverage.
Phase I will fully characterize the impact of the beam scanner on Doppler lidar measurements and demonstrate recovery of 3D velocity vectors using an existing low-SWaP short-range Doppler lidar prototype developed for long-range rifle ballistics. In Phase II, BNS will partner with an existing lidar wind sensor contractor for development of the full UAV wind sensor prototype using either BNS' existing lidar prototype or integrating BNS' low-SWaP beam scanner onto the partner's wind sensing platform, as desired by NASA.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The full UAV-deployable 3D wind sensor platform that is to be developed in this two-phase effort is anticipated to have multiple applications relevant to current or upcoming NASA missions. Specific recent and ongoing relevant NASA missions include:
- Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3)
- Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS)
- Development and Evaluation of Satellite Validation Tools by Experimenters (DEVOTE),
- Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP).
In more general terms, the proposed wind sensor will have applications in any airborne NASA mission seeking to better understand tropospheric wind patterns, weather dynamics, and climate processes while aiding calibration and validation of satellite-bound technologies for global wind measurement and extraterrestrial wind sensing missions (e.g., Venus).
The technology developed in this project, especially the versatile lidar beam scanning system in Phase I, can be tailored for a number of other NASA sensor platforms as well, such as for differential absorption lidar (DIAL) or other absorption-based optical sensing techniques.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The 3D wind sensor and non-mechanical beam steering technology have numerous commercial applications outside of NASA as well. With the ability to incorporate forward looking wind sensing, the platform can provide a low-SWaP package for hazard prediction for commercial and private aviation. Additionally, the sensor would be well suited to deployment on wind farms for guiding and controlling power-generating wind turbines. The sensor is particularly well suited for this application because the low-SWaP package is ideal for mounting directly to a turbine or even packaging in an ocean-going buoy for sea-based wind farms. Such a buoy network would also have weather warning and prediction applications.
The fundamental innovation of the non-mechanical beam steering technology has an even wider array of potential commercial applications. Within the Department of Defense, BNS plans to continue pursuing development of this technology for applications such as munitions seeker tracking, passive imaging, and conventional hard-target lidar. For civilian applications, lidar technology is being employed in a variety of applications such as automobile collision avoidance, autonomous robotics, noncontact structure analysis, topographical mapping and target identification. BNS is also increasingly generating interest from automotive manufacturers who wish to incorporate non-mechanical headlight steering.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Air Transportation & Safety
Lasers (Ladar/Lidar)
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37