June 18, 2010
DARPA Eyes UCLA For MEMS Research The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) has been awarded $5.5 million from the United States Department of Defense's central research ...

DARPA Eyes UCLA For MEMS Research

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) has been awarded $5.5 million from the United States Department of Defense's central research and development agency to advance microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology for use in defense systems. The four-and-a-half year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) will fund research by UCLA engineers to create electrically connected, rotating microscale motors for sensing and communications as part of the agency's Information Tethered Micro Automated Rotary Stages program.

Early MEMS work showed promise in the development of micromotors that could rotate 360 deg. The pace of development for this application of MEMS, compared to its uses for sensors and RF switches, has been slow. According to Chang-Jin CJ Kim, a Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA Engineering and Principal Investigator on the DARPA project, "Providing electric connections can be a little tricky, especially on continuous rotating platforms. You rarely see physically free objects electrically connected. You can't have electrical wires protruding from an object that rotates endlessly. So that's one of the challenges we are facing."

Kim's group has already successfully created a rotary stage using liquid droplets as the mechanical element that serves as a bridge between two moving objects. The liquid droplets, formed into a series of rings, provide physical support as well as rotational lubrication to the stage and allow for multiple stable electrical connections.

The goal of the UCLA Engineering team is to demonstrate a MEMS-fabricated rotary stage that would enable free rotation coupled with electrical power and signal transfer. Once the team shows proof of concept, they will concentrate on making the motorized rotary stage smaller, more accurate, and more power efficient.

US Navy Names Raytheon For RWRs

Raytheon Company has received an $89.5 million contract award from the US Navy for the continued production of its ALR-67(V)3 digital radar warning receiver (RWR). The contract includes systems and spares for the US Naval Air Systems Command as well as international customers. Scott Jackson, General Manager for Raytheon's Electronic Warfare Systems business, notes that "This award reflects our continuing commitment to providing highly reliable, advanced electronic warfare products and technologies to our customers. " The ALR-67(V)3 digital RWR technology is installed on all US Navy frontline, carrier-based F/A-18E/F tactical aircraft. It is an integral part of modernization programs for US and international F/A-18 customers. The contract represents the 12th full-rate production lot awarded to Raytheon as part of an original contract that began in the late 1980s with the initial development of the RWR.

Rockwell Collins To Equip NewGen Tanker

Rockwell Collins has been selected by Boeing for the flight deck of Boeing's NewGen Tanker to be supplied to the US Air Force. In addition to the flight deck, Rockwell Collins will provide Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM), aircraft networks and situational awareness capability to the aircraft. According to Kelly Ortberg, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Rockwell Collins Government Systems, "Rockwell Collins' ability to leverage our flight deck technology across our commercial and government businesses, along with our tanker/ transport avionics expertise, will result in providing the Air Force with the most advanced technology and best value solution available."

Z Microsystems To Supply UAS Displays

Z Microsystems is now shipping ground control displays for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) ground stations as part of a multimillion-dollar contract. Acting as a sub-contractor to a major supplier of UAS systems, Z Microsystems displays will be used by ground control station operators in the US military to monitor live video feeds. Jack Wade, CEO of Z Microsystems, explains that "Our ground control displays are built to help the military and aerospace UAS community focus on seeing better' and seeing more' through the application of real-time image processing. This contract validates that our technology is meeting the need for higher fidelity visualization in UAS surveillance. " The displays offer multiple Picture-in-Picture (PiP) windows and numerous mounting options. They are designed to work with the Any Image Anywhere (AIA) image enhancement system, which executes image enhancement algorithms in real time on full-motion video.

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