In the STTR Phase I solicitation for Topic T13.01 Intelligent Sensor Systems, NASA called for development of sensor systems with capabilities to measure the health and accuracy of the sensor, to detect anomalies, and to function in extreme environments. Alphacore and its Research Partner, Arizona State University, developed a framework in Phase I for self-calibrating sensors, backed by artificial intelligence with in-field calibration capabilities. We proved the feasibility of our approach by modeling pressure sensor and a capacitive accelerometer, designing electrical tests to correlate with mechanical characteristics, developing an aging simulation framework for the sensors, and designing the parametrizable self-test IP.
Based on the success in achieving STTR Phase I objectives as summarized in this proposal and described in detail in the STTR Phase I final report, Alphacore proposes to continue its work to meet the goals outlined by NASA in its solicitation. In the STTR Phase II we will fabricate test and prototype circuits that implement and validate the work done in Phase I, as well as extend the concepts developed in Phase I to other types of sensors. The sensor system design framework will provide:
In-field sensor calibration does not require application of physical stimulus
Post-production calibration information is leveraged for fast and reliable calibration
Sensor health and accuracy will be gauged by an artificial intelligence framework and a confidence level will be assigned to the decisions made by sensor readings
When possible, electrical stimulus can be used to excite the sensor; when electrical stimulation is not possible, array-based solutions can be developed
A low-cost ASIC will embody the calibration tools and techniques, enabling sensor self-calibration across a range of sensors and sensor types
Reduced system maintenance time and expense
Improved system performance and reliability
The initial application is to assist with NASA rocket engine testing. The tests create a harsh environment which affects sensor calibration and makes it difficult to access the sensors to check and adjust calibration. Alphacore’s sensor self-calibration solution will benefit the development and testing procedures for virtually all future missions, including Deep Space Gateway, the Moon to Mars missions, the Europa Clipper, and the Titan Saturn System Mission. The technology can be hardened for deployment on the missions themselves.
Sensors are used in aerospace and automobiles for safety, navigation and system health, and in defense for missile monitoring and launch warning systems and battle-space characterization. Alphacore’s solution will enable sensor self-calibration across a range of sensors and sensor types, and improve the reliability of measurements from these sensors to prevent accidents or system failure.