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DARPA Develops Non-GPS Navigation Chip

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the because-life-just-isn't-worth-living-otherwise dept.

Transportation 84

Zothecula writes "The Global Positioning System (GPS) has proved a boon for those with a bad sense of direction, but the satellite-based system isn't without its shortcomings. Something as simple as going indoors or entering a tunnel can render the system useless. That might be inconvenient for civilians, but it's potentially disastrous to military users, for whom the system was originally built. DARPA is addressing such concerns with the development of a self-sufficient navigation system that can aid navigation when GPS is temporarily unavailable."

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Bullet with GPS? (1, Flamebait)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#43433993)

âoeBoth the structural layer of the sensors and the integrated package are made of silica,â said Andrei Shkel, DARPA program manager. âoeThe hardness and the high-performance material properties of silica make it the material of choice for integrating all of these devices into a miniature package. The resulting TIMU is small enough and should be robust enough for applications (when GPS is unavailable or limited for a short period of time) such as personnel tracking, handheld navigation, small diameter munitions and small airborne platforms

-
well, now they will have their self aiming bullets and self propelling, self aiming, manoeuvring grenades.

I say bullets and grenades, because why else would you care to track indoors, it's not a missile or a big bomb that will go there, a big bomb will just take your entire 'indoors' and make it 'outdoors'. Bullets and self propelled grenades on the other hand...

At least it's nice to know that at some point some of this may end up in civilian robotics, otherwise it's just terrible. You thought you could hide in your house from a drone machine gun? No, now we'll have crazy smart bullets to take care of the terrorists, that's right, the terrorists in their caves.

Drone planes, drone bombs, drone missiles, soon drone bullets, drone knives. They really don't like having to give orders to actual people, do they, knowing that people may not always take the orders if they disagree with them.

Re:Bullet with GPS? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434139)

Oh, I don't know, blue force tracking? Micro-UAVs? It's sad when someone who's obviously liberal is so narrow-minded.

Re:Bullet with GPS? (2)

leftover (210560) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434299)

Smart but misguided, one might say ...

Re:Bullet with GPS? (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434413)

I say bullets and grenades, because why else would you care to track indoors

The bullet would have to be terribly slow and pretty big in order for it to be maneuverable indoors and still have enough space to hold the necessary equipment to be able to make such sharp turns. A normal-sized bullet would be completely impossible to maneuver at the speeds they're conventionally fired at. Besides, it'd be pointless to waste all that money on making these magical bullets when you could just instead make a small UAV capable of maneuvering indoors and arm it with a conventional gun.

Also, your tin-foil hat is screwed on way too tight if the only applications you see for this are weaponized platforms. Must suck to live in such constant fear all your life.

Re:Bullet with GPS? (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434449)

Must suck to live in such constant fear all your life.

- it must, but what does that have to do with myself? I am quite certain that there are targets that US military is interested in, I am certainly not one of them yet.

Re:Bullet with GPS? (1)

dsvick (987919) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434973)

I say bullets and grenades, because why else would you care to track indoors

Because the days of pitched battles across huge areas are falling behind. The modern battle field is getting more and more urban (that would be indoors), and where it isn't urban, it is often underground or inside caves

... now we'll have crazy smart bullets to take care of the terrorists, that's right, the terrorists in their caves ... They really don't like having to give orders to actual people, do they, knowing that people may not always take the orders if they disagree with them.

Actually, the point of doing this would be to save American lives and not needlessly endanger them. I'm sure they aren't very worried about people disobeying orders

Similar to some existing systems (5, Informative)

MLBs (2637825) | about a year and a half ago | (#43433999)

Embedded car GPS systems are linked to the car speed data, and when entering a long tunnel, will continue to move the position correctly.
For this limited scenario, it appears to the user as if the GPS was active all along.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (2)

nazsco (695026) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434041)

yeah, didn't see how this is "new". but i'm sure they will get all the patents and billionaire grants.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434491)

It's not new. A very quick Google produced this [gpsmagazine.com] , from 6 years ago:

Dead Reckoning technology allows a GPS to continue tracking your position on the map even when little or no signal is available, such as when driving through a tunnel or in dense urban environments, and is one of the few benefits of an integrated in-car GPS navigation system over a portable GPS. California-based GPS chip manufacturer, SiRF, is announcing SiRFDiRect technology that delivers the same in-car DR capabilities previously available on in-car wired systems only.

According to SiRF, "SiRFDiRect gives our portable navigation device customers a competitive edge by enabling them to provide in-car system navigation accuracy."

In-Car GPS systems tap into the car's accelerometer and brake light to determine speed and position when no GPS signal is available. SiRF's DR sensor achieves the same accuracy, seamlessly switching between DR and regular GPS, but can be embedded in the device or mounted on the dashboard. SiRF says the chips will be available to OEM manufacturers in Q3 this year.

...and that refers to similar capability available even earlier.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (4, Informative)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434523)

Dead reckoning, thousands of years old, now with computer. Patent!

Re:Similar to some existing systems (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43442071)

Dead reckoning preceded GPS. Earlier systems had no way to know so used a 2-pronged location method. They knew wheel speed and compass direction, and sometimes had accelerometers and whatnot.

Then they used map matching, where they took your actual path as you drove, and tried to fit it to known streets and turns. This could take quite a while before narrowing it down to only one spot that fit your path. Then they "knew" where you were, and used dead reckoning to try to not lose it.

Some systems also used Loran, which was a terrestrial-based location system for ships that preceded GPS.

it IS existing systems in smaller package (5, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434087)

nothing new about gyroscopes and accelerometers in a package, even an integrated circuit one.....this might be smaller or perhaps more accurate than some I've seen over the DECADES. but definitely no new tech or ideas here.

first autopilot (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435661)

nothing new about gyroscopes and accelerometers in a package, even an integrated circuit one.....this might be smaller or perhaps more accurate than some I've seen over the DECADES. but definitely no new tech or ideas here.

yeah.. the first autopilots worked on those gyro+accel principles.

Re:it IS existing systems in smaller package (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43437357)

Yeah, and I'm doubtful that this can work for very long. Dead reckoning with (MEMS, anyway) accelerometers is pretty much impossible. The error in position is quadratic in time, and it goes off VERY rapidly (you have about 5 seconds before it is unusable.)

I've implemented dead reckoning for fixed-wing UAVs using an airspeed sensor and compass, plus a wind estimation from when the GPS was working. The error is linear in time, and even that goes off fairly fast (but is good enough to return roughly to home from a couple km away, if you have a great compass setup)

Re:Similar to some existing systems (1)

4wdloop (1031398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434529)

And why one would need to navigate in a tunnel? (Other then how deep one's in...).

Certainly more applications are possible as I'd expect it will have much higher sampling rates and precision than GPS and hence can be use in control applications more than in navigation.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (1)

Diddlbiker (1022703) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435327)

And why one would need to navigate in a tunnel? (Other then how deep one's in...).

Certainly more applications are possible as I'd expect it will have much higher sampling rates and precision than GPS and hence can be use in control applications more than in navigation.

Troops with colorful berets (green, red, black, etc) navigating through a sewer system, needing to know what manhole to get out.
Or navigating quickly through a large building. Urban combat is combat too
Or simply knowing *where* you are when you leave the tunnel without having to wait two minutes for acquisition. Well, you might know where you are, but the nav system of your car needs to know too.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (2)

4wdloop (1031398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435771)

Good points...I could use one in IKEA...

Re:Similar to some existing systems (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a year and a half ago | (#43437055)

When the zombie apocalypse comes I am going to ikea. I can survive there for years and never find my way out again.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434687)

So what we have here is a ground implementation of an aviation INS [wikipedia.org] (with data linkages to various sensors, such as wheel speed).

Not exactly new. What would be new is getting a decent level of accuracy in something smaller than this [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Similar to some existing systems (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43436039)

Embedded car GPS systems are linked to the car speed data, and when entering a long tunnel, will continue to move the position correctly.
For this limited scenario, it appears to the user as if the GPS was active all along.

Yes, but that's just software, blindly dead-reckoning from your GPS implied speed going into the tunnel, and it's map of where the tunnel goes. And generally they give up even after a minute or so, because the programmers accept it'll be wildly inaccurate by then.

This a a chip, with 3 gyros and 3 accelerometers. Which means it can tell when you change speed and direction. And will be reasonably accurate for much longer.

Nothing particularly new. Just military spec one in a tiny package. But more than you get with a consumer satnav.

I drove through a mountain last week (1)

billstewart (78916) | about a year and a half ago | (#43436573)

and the oscillation overthruster didn't even kick in :-) It was the new tunnel that replaces Devil's Slide Rd. south of San Francisco, and my GPS didn't have a map update for the recently-opened tunnel, so it showed me driving right through the mountain.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (1)

Antarell (930241) | about a year and a half ago | (#43436493)

They might want to talk to TomTom as well. A couple of years back they started putting accelerometers in their high end GPS's for this reason. I haven't been in the market for a while so they might all have them now.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43437337)

Yeah, the concept is known as an "Inertial Map Locator" and has been a standard of science fiction at least since the 40's. Nice to see another staple of scifi becoming real.

Re:Similar to some existing systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43474607)

go check http://my-gps-online.com [my-gps-online.com] for more info about new gps systems

Missiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434013)

So basically inertial navigation used in rockets since the 40s, but in smaller package using semiconductor gyros and accelerometers.
I want this for my bike if it's cheap enough.

Re:Missiles (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434113)

the semiconductor ones are decades old too, at least to 1980s

Don't they already have this? (0)

AlphaBit (1244464) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434015)

Missiles have had inertial navigation systems for some time now. Where's the advance that brings this technology to regular consumers?

Re:Don't they already have this? (5, Interesting)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434433)

Missiles have had inertial navigation systems for some time now. Where's the advance that brings this technology to regular consumers?

DC8 jets had inertial navigation systems back in the '60s. You could fly from LAX to Tokyo without touching the controls and the plane would only be a few hundred yards off alignment from the runway. Not bad for a 5000+ mile flight.

Re:Don't they already have this? (1)

Diddlbiker (1022703) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435303)

DC8 jets had inertial navigation systems back in the '60s. You could fly from LAX to Tokyo without touching the controls and the plane would only be a few hundred yards off alignment from the runway. Not bad for a 5000+ mile flight.

A few hundreds yards off when aligning with the runway can make a good flight a really bad one. But I get your point :)

the V2s had inertial navigation (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435881)

no patent, sorry

Re:Don't they already have this? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43442083)

One of the bits cut out of the original Superman with Christopher Reeves on TV these past 30 years was the Hackensack missile headed to Mrs. Tessmacher's mom's house. Superman tries to get in front of it and catch it, but it's a sneaky, radar-avoidance missile, those having just been developed (or talked about), and it goes around him.

Re:Don't they already have this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448981)

Cruise missiles have had ~10 meter-accurate inertial guidance since the 80s. They needed it for terrain following.

most likely in case of jamming (0)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434027)

if you are indoors you probably know where you are
if you go into a tunnel, you will come out and get the signal again. and its not like you need to navitage inside a tunnel.

this is probably to defeat jamming. GPS signals are low power. Lightsquared showed that it won't take too much to jam them.
kind of hard to launch cruise missiles into an enemy nation if they set up GPS jammers within their borders

Re:most likely in case of jamming (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434231)

if you are indoors you probably know where you are

Go to an average mall nowadays and ask yourself it that's true. ;-)

Re:most likely in case of jamming (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434261)

if you are indoors you probably know where you are

Says the man who never travels. Try out your theory in an airport or major mall. Heck, I would love indoor navigation for some medical complexes.

Re:most likely in case of jamming (1)

treeves (963993) | about a year and a half ago | (#43436647)

I've used Google Maps on my phone to find the cleaning supplies in Home Depot.
They actually have the aisles labeled on the map and I found the brooms.
When you can't find someone with an orange apron, it's a great help!

Re:most likely in case of jamming (4, Interesting)

LordNightwalker (256873) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434311)

if you go into a tunnel, you will come out and get the signal again. and its not like you need to navitage inside a tunnel.

Not all tunnels have only one entry and exit point. I already missed an exit in the tunnels under Brussels on a couple of occasions. And even if all tunnels were simple one-pipe affairs... What if you need to make a turn shortly after the tunnel, and your GPS takes too long to get a fix so it still has you at the tunnel's entrance when you blissfully sail past your turn?

I'm not saying we couldn't cope without these improvements, as indeed in the past we managed to do just fine without GPS. But there's room for useful improvement nonetheless.

Re:most likely in case of jamming (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434649)

in the USA we have A-GPS. the cell towers send out a GPS signal which is a lot faster than the US Air Force one

Re:most likely in case of jamming (2)

amjohns (29330) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435159)

Umm, that's not at all how A-GPS works.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_GPS [wikipedia.org]

A-GPS works by providing an estimated position and time to the GPS reveiver, along with ephemerides (orbital position/parameters) of the satellites. Together, that the search space of which satellitest to look for, estimates of signal doppler, and estimated position. So you get a faster initial position fix, ie cold-start. Once your GPS has accurate time, position, and lock on multiple satellites, A-GPS provides no more benefits.

The data is not a GPS signal from the towers, it's a data payload, pure and simple. In some systems, the GSM networks provides a special low-latency time hack directly, since A-GPS really needs 1mS accuracy to be maximally useful (1mS = 300km position error) and cellular data latency is much worse than that. Position, ephemeris ans 100ms time is still useful though. Estimated position comes from visible towers and big databases, also many smartphones use WiFi as well.

More to the point, inertial navigation sensors like this are designed to augment Radionavigation systems, either carrying the slack when radio isn't available, or helping provide more precise or refined motion data to keep the GPS's Filterssmooth and accurate

Re:most likely in case of jamming (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43437283)

You are not always in a car when this thing will be most useful. How about when your combat team is inside the corridors of a building?

PATH finding in downtown Toronto. (2)

westlake (615356) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435157)

if you are indoors you probably know where you are

Let me introduce you to the Great White North:

PATH is downtown Toronto's underground walkway linking 28 kilometres of shopping, services and entertainment.

PATH facts:

According to Guinness World Records, PATH is the largest underground shopping complex with 29 km (18 miles) of shopping arcades. It has 371,600 sq. metres (4 million sq. ft) of retail space. In fact, the retail space connected to PATH rivals the West Edmonton Mall in size.

The approximate 1,200 shops and services, such as photocopy shops and shoe repairs, found in PATH, employ about 5,000 people. Once a year, businesses in PATH host the world's largest underground sidewalk sale.

More than 50 buildings/office towers are connected through PATH. Twenty parking garages, five subway stations, two major department stores, six major hotels, and a railway terminal are also accessible through PATH. It also provides links to some of Toronto's major tourist and entertainment attractions such as: the Hockey Hall of Fame, Roy Thomson Hall, Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, and the CN Tower. City Hall and Metro Hall are also connected through PATH.

There are more than 125 grade level access points and 60 decision points where a pedestrian has to decide between turning left or right, or continuing straight on. The average size of a connecting link is 20 metres (66 ft.) long by 6 metres (20 ft.) wide.

Signage includes a symbol for people with disabilities whenever there is a flight of stairs ahead.

PATH Facts [toronto.ca]

Crystal City in Washington DC (2)

billstewart (78916) | about a year and a half ago | (#43436617)

There's a respectably large underground complex in Crystal City, on the south side of Washington DC, though it's not quite Toronto scale. A subway station, a mall with food court, entrances to office buildings, bottom floors of a couple of hotels. I had some business trips where entered the subway at National Airport (briefly above ground) and didn't come out of the tunnels again until I left town. There's an elevator in the complex that tells you what floor you're on which was confused one day (telling me I was one floor below the one I was really on), and unfortunately I didn't have time to take it down to the basement to see what it would say about it.

Re:Crystal City in Washington DC (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year and a half ago | (#43440907)

There's a respectably large underground complex in Crystal City, on the south side of Washington DC, though it's not quite Toronto scale

There are many other examples though few on the scale of Toronto or Montreal. Underground city [wikipedia.org]

Re:most likely in case of jamming (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year and a half ago | (#43437783)

if you go into a tunnel, you will come out and get the signal again.

Evidently you haven't seen some tunnels around the world. In Vienna there's a tunnel you can enter near the middle of the city where some of the lanes are marked with a sign saying you're leaving the city-state. There's several other lanes directing you to completely different countries and this underground tunnel will spit you out in all sorts of places. How do you know where you should be?

Or here in Brisbane they've just joined two tunnels (Airport Link and Clem7) together in an area where you're given the option to take a major road north, or jump on a major arterial (Inner City Bypass), and in the future this will join another tunnel (Legacy Way). When you take that exit of the Clem 7 (there are 4 possible exits you can take when you enter the tunnel), then you're greeted with a choice of 3 lanes which will take you to 3 very different parts of the city all about 10km apart without the ability to turn off and correct yourself, and in some case pay some additional tolls while you're at it.

Naturally you need to make this decision long before you get a GPS fix.

Not disastrous (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434061)

It wouldn't be disastrous for military applications, because military navigators are all trained on how to navigate without GPS. And they practice it. Also, does anyone lose their way going into a tunnel? Maybe a mining complex or caves or something....

It works by have six-axis, extremely sensitive, gyroscopes and accelerometers. Thus it can extrapolate position within a margin of error, hopefully long enough to get back in range of GPS.

Re:Not disastrous (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434103)

It wouldn't be disastrous for military applications, because military navigators are all trained on how to navigate without GPS

Tell that to the operators of a certain drone that landed in Iran and see how far you get.

Re:Not disastrous (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43437501)

What are the chances you think it was over Iran by accident?

Re:Not disastrous (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434181)

try driving across an enemy country with crappy roads and see how far you get without navigation

Re:Not disastrous (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434279)

see how far you get without navigation

Without navigation? Of course you'll get lost. Without GPS? Boats do it all the time on the ocean, without any roads.

Re:Not disastrous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434815)

and it is a bitch to do so without LORAN or radio beacons. You are basically pulling out a sextant and doing things not much different to how columbus did it.

Drones (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434329)

military navigators are all trained on how to navigate without GPS

I'm sure their concern is with autonomous drone navigation. Perhaps like the one that Iran captured sometime last year.

Re:Drones (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435321)

Yes. This thing is an inertial navigation system, which have existed since the 40s and have been conveniently small for twenty or thirty years, but all packed into a nice little chip, perfect for drones, small missiles and/or lost motorists.

It's just some accelerometers and gyroscopes and some software. You could make one with a smartphone app if you wanted to, although it's probably less accurate. Hm... a search on the app store doesn't turn one up immediately. Might be interesting to play with.

Re:Drones (1)

LeBleu (15782) | about a year and a half ago | (#43456031)

The standard accelerometers in smartphones are not accurate enough for inertial navigation. You get a very high rate of drift. My guess would be the innovative part of this that isn't clearly explained in the article is just that they got better accuracy than previously achieved in a chip sized unit.

Re:Not disastrous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434427)

Also, does anyone lose their way going into a tunnel?

Yes, yes he does. [nuklearpower.com]

Article misses the point (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434075)

What the article is describing (an IMU) have been around forever (since before GPS), and pretty much any system that uses GPS for navigation has one to supplement the GPS. What is new here is the size; a full IMU on a single chip the size of your pinky finger nail. Pretty cool considering that not too long ago these used to comprise of multiple separate physical devices (gyrometer x3, accellerometer x3, magnetometer), but have been getting progressively smaller over the years. MEMs has come a long way.

Re:Article misses the point (2)

storkus (179708) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434351)

Mod parent up: the story here is the extreme miniaturization taking place, where separate units or even a rack full of equipment can now be made into a single chip the size of an existing GPS/GLONASS receiver by itself!

But wait, there's more: remember the the atomic clock on a chip that DARPA wanted? I think we now know what they really wanted it for, as you can't implement this kind of indoor inertial navigation (with errors in inches/centimeters) without one.

Oh, and for you tin-hat folks, here's another: with this, you can now have your movements tracked INDOORS as well as out simply by sewing one of these in as a fake button, between seams, etcetera: this is the final ingredient in 100% ubiquious surveillance that until now has not been possible. Are you scared yet?

Re:Article misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434499)

I'm not sure how much this really gains you for meaningful surveillance. Between GPS and wi-fi (assuming you can install software on their smartphone) you can get a pretty good idea of where someone is. On the other hand, precise indoor localization would be useful for navigation (ex. enter item on smartphone, it points you to where it is in a retail store or navigating in large buildings like airports or malls). Those problems are pretty well solved by signs for humans so the applications I just described seem like overkill, but doing the same for robots would be quite useful. Obviously, existing robots already have localization systems, but better ones are always nice and such a tiny one could be used on tiny flying machines where weight/bulk matters a lot.

Re:Article misses the point (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434539)

"Sir, target appears to be spinning round and round in the laundry room."

Re:Article misses the point (1)

suutar (1860506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435785)

at this point I pretty much assume ubiquitous surveillance. My only gripe is that I can't see the surveillance of the authorities as easily as they can see the surveillance of me.

Re:Article misses the point (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43436821)

But wait, there's more: remember the the atomic clock on a chip that DARPA wanted? I think we now know what they really wanted it for, as you can't implement this kind of indoor inertial navigation (with errors in inches/centimeters) without one.

Such a clock is useful for all manner of other things too... notably crypto and frequency hopping.

Re:Article misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434381)

I've used MEM based IMUs and they drift something awful. I want a cheap small laser ring gyro. Pretty please.

Re:Article misses the point (1)

jovius (974690) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435123)

The DARPA device is most certainly an improvement, but consumer IMU's are rather small nowadays too - for instance this one: http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1268 [pololu.com] (just ordered one)

Re:Article misses the point (1)

russotto (537200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43438155)

Pretty cool considering that not too long ago these used to comprise of multiple separate physical devices (gyrometer x3, accellerometer x3, magnetometer), but have been getting progressively smaller over the years.

It's hardly something DARPA needs to be involved with. We who are better at buying crap for our R/C helicopters than flying the things have been able to purchase the equivalent commercially for some time now.

Who, bugs the bugger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434079)

The sensors are packed onto a single chip in six microfabricated layers that are each just 50 microns thick, which is approximately the thickness of a human hair. At just 10 cubic millimeters in size, the whole package is smaller than a U.S. penny.

Funny, that's just were I found one.

INS has been around... with shortcomings (1)

davids-world.com (551216) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434083)

Inertial navigation systems have been around for a long time - certainly predating GPS. Commercial aircraft fly with them (to be independent). They are small enough to be added to small drones - though they are not "chip-scale". Precise, robust ones are very expensive, and perhaps addressing the price is one of their goals, though the blurb doesn't state that. They also need to be re-calibrated regularly (ever seen exact position information at locations where aircraft park?), but again, I don't see how the DARPA project addresses it. It would be nice to have a miniature-INS for indoors navigation, but only if it's a chip for less than $10 or so...

Congratulations (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434167)

You taxpayers have just paid to re-invent the wheel, or inertial reference systems.

Horrible summary (3, Informative)

MasseKid (1294554) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434233)

The story here is they made a really small INU & timing module. AHRS/IMU/INU (among other acronyms) have been around for a very long time. This is simply a very, very, small one, that is probably cheaper to produce than exsiting MEMS systems. Of course, it won't have the accuracy of the larger systems, but that's part of the trade offs.

Passive + this + GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434235)

The only way you could get lost is if you punched an angry bear and your body was devoured in to bearhell.

The only problem with preloaded maps, however, is they go out of date after a period.
Although I say that when my back garden satellite data on Google Maps... is older than Google Maps...
It isn't so much a problem when it is just my silly back garden, but it IS a HUGE problem when the whole outskirts of my town are COMPLETELY different.
There is huge hotels, restaurants, factories and various other facilities, an entire expansion of the town in space worth around 1/5th the size of the town previous to it.
And that also includes the main roads in to the town and connecting a large section of other nearby towns and villages.
(if you are wondering where this is I am speaking of, it is here: http://goo.gl/maps/EnpnU [goo.gl] )
But in the end, the required data for such a system would only need to be decent enough to be able to find your way to settlements that are at least >80% of the time going to still be around in some useful sense, so the system will still be incredibly useful for that purpose, especially travellers.
Just don't pull any Nathan Drake nonsense and piss off some angry armies who want some gold.

Passive radiation location services are going to be very important as well.
It will be providing new radars for some airports in the near future, if they think it is safe enough to use for such a high accuracy requiring tech that would endanger many lives if it screwed up, it is more than capable of being used for passive location services.

The size of that chip is amazing as well. Very good work.
I just wonder how accurate such a small chip will be overall. In some cases, smaller might not be better, but I am not entirely sure if this would apply to sensors of these types. Anyone?

Lying GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43434355)

I used an old school Garmin handheld GPS for many years. While it was frustrating to not have a signal, at least the damn thing didn't FUCKING LIE TO ME like GMAPS on my smartphone does. One step forward, two steps back.

Digikey (2)

ssyladin (458003) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434359)

So when can I get these at digikey?

Re:Digikey (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43435451)

http://www.digikey.ca/product-search/en/sensors-transducers/multifunction/1967155?k=inertial [digikey.ca]

Sparkfun has more variety:

https://www.sparkfun.com/pages/accel_gyro_guide [sparkfun.com]

Kinda nice to have everything in one chip, but for most applications these will do just as well and are available now.

There are at least two companies in Finland ... (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434397)

who are working on different solutions to indoor navigation too (IPS) [wikipedia.org]

One of them is IndoorAtlas [indooratlas.com] who are working on using disruption of earth's geomagnetic field from buildings for navigation and the other one is the turku based company Walkbase [walkbase.com] who are using wifi for IPS.

It may not be the same but there are a bunch of companies around the world working on indoor navigation without the need for GPS in general

Inertial Nav + Kalman Filter (4, Informative)

sillivalley (411349) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434403)

As others have posted, intertial nav platforms have been around for decades -- in military aircraft, and then in commercial aircraft.

The break throughs are not only in getting the platform sensors, the gyros, accelerometers, and magnetometers, onto a single chip, but also in being able to provide the computer horsepower to do the Kalman filtering to integrate all these sensors to come out with a nav/position solution, in a few cubic centimeters of processed sand, and for a few Watts.

It's not just the sensors, it's the processing as well. The sensors just throw data at you (data with all sorts of errors); the Kalman filter lets you bring everything together for your nav/position solution. As a prof long ago said it, "Kalman filtering -- how to stop worrying and learn to love matrix inversion."

Re:Inertial Nav + Kalman Filter (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43437327)

Check out Invensense (http://www.invensense.com). They have been making single-chip motion sensor/processors for years, and their products look to be smaller than what was pictured in the OA. Maybe the newness is in the particular manufacturing/packaging process.

Probably for the JDAM and smaller munitions (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434469)

One major application for this is terminal guidance for munitions, like the Joint Direct Attack Munition and surface-to-ground missiles like the Hellfire. Those need an IMU so they can hit targets with GPS jammers. They get an initial position from the aircraft, which has a better IMU and upward-looking antennas which can probably get GPS despite ground jammers. All the small IMU has to do is keep a good position and heading for about a minute.

As this gets smaller, it becomes usable on more munitions, such as mortar rounds. Eventually, most indirect fire ammo will have this.

Re:Probably for the JDAM and smaller munitions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43435097)

Indeed, the article even mentioned small-diameter ordnance. In other words, a Tomahawk cruise missle already has plenty of space for its large inertial guidance system, but a mortar round or grenade does not.

dom

back in the day, we had something like that (0)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434503)

hard to remember that far back, but I think we called 'em "maps" and you could roll them up or fold them and carry a lot of them in a small space. no electricity, no radio, no gigabits, and they worked everywhere. if DARPA would like to send be a hundred pounds of $100 bills, I would take some time to consult on this in my spare time.

Re:back in the day, we had something like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43435037)

How many of these "maps" can you fit in 10 cubic millimeters? I know it's not fashionable to read the article, but if you had even read the summary you could have at least made a snarky comment about inertial navigation systems being older than dirt. I suppose you could try to adapt your map technology to augment GPS positioning using electronic maps and sensors, but even that would be nothing new or novel (it is even mentioned in the article).

Re:back in the day, we had something like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43435683)

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the use of a "map", but this solves an entirely different (though complementary) problem. The device described in TFA is actually for the purpose of telling you where you are on the map. A map itself is useless without knowing where you are on it.

dom

I've heard about this new technology (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year and a half ago | (#43434699)

Computational Orienteering Map Processing Assist Simulation Service

or

Compass for short.

so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43439613)

What percentage of tunnels, that a motorist can enter, have more than one exit?

Dead Reckoning Rediscovered (1)

hicksw (716194) | about a year and a half ago | (#43443499)

Nothing new to see here. Move along, velocity unchanged.
--
You don't need a PC to be a dog on the internet anymore.

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