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KVH inertial sensor integrates photonic chip technology

New patented PIC Inside technology is designed to enhance inertial sensor performance and reliability for the growing autonomous market

Photo: KVH

Photo: KVH

KVH Industries has launched the P-1775 inertial measurement unit (IMU), featuring KVH’s new PIC Inside photonic integrated chip (PIC) technology.

KVH has been developing and testing the technology for more than three years and is now incorporating it into existing product lines. The first units have started shipping.

One of the first customers has integrated the P-1775 IMU into its next-generation rocket launch vehicle.

KVH’s PIC Inside technology features an integrated planar optical chip that replaces individual fiber-optic components to simplify production while maintaining or improving accuracy and performance.

The PIC Inside product is designed to deliver 20 times higher accuracy than less expensive MEMS inertial measurement units, uses modular designs for ease of integration, and has outstanding repeatability unit-to-unit.

“I applaud the tremendous effort by our incredible engineers in developing this groundbreaking technology and I am thrilled that we have begun to incorporate PIC Inside technology into our existing products, a process that we expect to continue throughout the year,” said Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH CEO.

The PIC technology will be added to KVH’s inertial sensor product line for use across a broad range of applications from navigation to stabilization and pointing. KVH’s fiber-optic gyros (FOGs) and FOG-based products are particularly well-suited for the large and growing autonomous market. This market includes applications on land, sea and air, such as drones, people movers, trucks, and mining and construction equipment.

Autonomous applications rely on high-quality inertial sensors to deliver an extremely accurate navigation solution, delivering the performance required in critical metrics such as angle random walk (ARW) and bias instability.

Next-generation driverless cars, which require centimeter-level precision for safety, are the ideal application for KVH’s inertial products, KVH said. Employing the PIC design allows for a lower cost and scalable solution due to the elimination of various fiber components and a reduction of labor.

In 2019, KVH delivered its first product prototypes containing PIC technology to automotive customers and presented the science behind the technology to an audience of engineers at an inertial sensor conference, describing the extensive development, testing, and benefits of the new technology.

KVH is a leading innovator for assured navigation and autonomous accuracy using high-performance sensors and integrated inertial systems. KVH’s widely fielded TACNAV systems are in use by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps as well as many allied militaries around the world. KVH’s FOGs and FOG-based IMUs are in use today in a wide variety of applications ranging from optical, antenna and sensor stabilization systems to mobile mapping solutions and autonomous platforms and cars.

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