SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  A10-054 (Army)
Title:  Innovative Non-conventional Imaging Technology for Situational Awareness
Research & Technical Areas:  Sensors, Electronics

Acquisition Program:  PM Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team
 The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b.(7) of the solicitation.
  Objective:  Investigate and develop innovative use of non-conventional technologies, such as fiber optic arrays and Digital Micro-mirror Devices (DMD), to facilitate inexpensive and immediate imaging of the hemisphere or even the total sphere around manned vehicles that are normally constructed with limited visual access by the occupants to the vehicles environment.
  Description:  This effort is for development of a system that provides direct viewing of the external regions around a vehicle using a mix of non-conventional optics with conventional in the optical path. This topic is intended to provide higher quality video, in terms of lower latency, higher dynamic range, more accurate wavelength representation, etc., than a digital camera can provide. The non-conventional, innovative optical components can provide advantages in spatial and spectral resolution aiding threat identification. Situational awareness is especially necessary today for the protection of soldiers in urban and mountainous terrain environments. The environment is a complex 3-dimensional array of obstructions that are very capable of hiding the enemy. For moving manned vehicles the environment and the threat is constantly changing and the requirements such as spatial resolution and light accommodations required for visual examination has to change correspondingly. Some examples of non-conventional technologies are: 1) Flexible fiber bundles, implemented as fiber scopes, are used routinely in optical systems for transmission of imagery from inside the human body, from inside of industrial components, and from other hard to reach locations. They can be very rugged, relatively cheap, occupy very little room, and operate over a large spectral range. They are often made with some fibers carrying the illuminating light source to the environmental terminus in such a way to illuminate only the viewed field of view. Fiber optics can change the spatial orientation and perform as lenses within a system. 2) Digital Micro-mirror Devices (DMD) are digitally controlled micromechanical, light modulators consisting of several hundred thousand microscopic mirrors arranged in a rectangular array on a chip. The mirrors are individually electrically controlled to rotate to and fro. Most applications for DMD are digital projection systems instead of acquisition of imagery, instead of making use of them in an image acquisition system. Fiber optics and DMD are described here only as examples of non-conventional optical components that might be used in battlefield imaging systems. Examples of traditional optical components in an optical train would include traditional reflective and refractive lenses, etc.

  PHASE I: Develop and evaluate innovative non-conventional technology for use in optical path to facilitate inexpensive, immediate and continuous monitoring of the sphere around manned vehicles by the occupants. The optical resolution must be such that a soldier looking at the viewing screen can identify targets such as personnel and personal weapons from the edge of the vehicle all the way out to a kilometer or more. Light loss by the system should be less than 90% in the visible. The optical elements in the path should occupy not much more volume than digital cameras would for and be design rugged enough for military vehicle environments.
  PHASE II: Downselect to a design and fabricate, integrate and perform evaluation testing of a system to be delivered to the Government and installed on a Government Vehicle at ARDEC. Initiate actions for commercialization of the device within the DOD.

  PHASE III: The device should provide capability in a rugged and reasonably priced imaging device that can be integrated into a vehicle or at a fixed site for spherical situational awareness. Such a device might also be used for ground based platforms and aerial based platforms. Commercial applications would be similar to DOD applications, that is, provide hemispherical situational awareness in such areas as retail outlets, parking lots, etc.

  References:  . Donald M. Chiarulli, Steven P. Levitan, et. al, Multichannel Optical Interconnections using Imaging Fiber Bundles, Appl. Opt. 39, pp698-703 (2000). 2. S. K. Nayar, V. Branzoi, and T. E. Boult, Programmable Imaging: Towards a Flexible Camera, International Journal on Computer Vision, Oct, 2006. 3. S.K. Nayar, V. Branzoi and T. Boult, Programmable Imaging using a Digital Micromirror Array, IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), Vol.I, pp.436-443, Jun, 2004. 4. http;//www.dtic.mil/ provides many hits on micromirrors and fiber optic arrays. 5. http://www.ceramoptec.com/products/sub_content.asp?SubnavID=14&ThirdNavID=5 6. http://www.olympus-ims.com/en/fiberscope/ 7. http://www.ronanmeasure.com/pages/images/Fill-Fluid%20vs%20Fiber%20Comparison.pdf.

Keywords:  Fiber optic bundles, digital micro-mirrors, imaging, situational awareness, Digital Micro-mirror Devices, fiberscopes

Questions and Answers:
Q: How should the system display the visual sphere image, in multiple frames or multiple zones of a single frame?
A: The solicitation has left the method of display up to the propose who needs to consider how to do this in the current cramped military vehicle already filled with many displays.
Q: 1. What is the optical definition of "must spectrally transmit 90%"?
2. Is this measured in terms of scene radiance as viewed?
A: The system must transmit 90% of the scene radiance as viewed in the range of 400 nanometer to one micron.

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