Adaptive Dynamics, Inc.
Phase III Success: $4.5 million through contracts with the Navy, Army, and commercial sales
Topic Number: N07-103
MILITARY OPERATIONS can only be executed if the battle plan is communicated effectively to the fighting units. Plan details must be transmitted with the utmost clarity, allowing the command and control units to act in a united, and cooperative effort. Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Satellite Communications (SATCOM) systems are used to achieve this goal, where communications are exchanged rapidly and efficiently throughout every level of command. However, when data rates and system capacities are degraded by radio frequency (RF) and multipath interference, the system is unable to deliver mission-critical communications. There existed an urgent need to de-velop capabilities that would mitigate interference from the UHF communications channels without distorting the communication signals of interest.
The team at Adaptive Dynamics, Inc. (ADI) had a successful history in communications signal processing, and performed some early work with sonars. They believed that their existing technology could be applied to solve the problem of interference in communications and other RF systems, and embarked on a Phase I project with SPAWAR with this goal in mind. ADI applied an extension of its nonlinear adaptive filtering techniques that were previously developed and successfully applied to various waveforms. The algorithms were redesigned to provide effective performance with the 25 kHz Continuous Phase Modulation (CPM) waveform in the presence of various types of interference and multipath distortion.
ADI's resulting product restores the data rate and capacity of the UHF SATCOM links in order to close the gap in operational capability produced by the undesirable interference. This nonlinear adaptive filtering system mitigated the effects of narrowband interference and increased the effective number of UHF SATCOM channels available to warfighters. The system maximizes the data rate achieved in real-life environmental conditions and dramatically increases the capability to establish and maintain reliable communication of mission-critical messages, even in the event of severe RF interference and hostile denial of service attacks.
"Many companies have tried to solve the issues with interference and noisy environments," says Adaptive Dynamics President James Zeidler. "We have an innovative approach, however, in that we are able to track rapid variations in the operational environment, which classical techniques are not able to keep up with."
ADI continued the development of its product with a Phase II award and subsequently participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP). Although the company is focused on transitioning the technology to the fleet first and foremost, it was during this time they saw the massive potential for the commercial marketplace and the broad potential spectrum of applications. Platforms that could benefit from the technology include other communications systems, navigation systems, electronic warfare, signal intelligence, and any application where users are trying to convey information or analyze signals.
At the culmination of the Navy TAP, Adaptive Dynamics presented its innovation at the Navy Opportunity Forum®. While most companies find themselves amongst competitors, ADI found itself another partner.
"The biggest benefit of the Navy Opportunity Forum® for our company happened to be the interaction we had with other small businesses," says Zeidler. "Navsys Corporation saw a potential application of our technology into their GPS and navigation systems, and that resulted in a subcontract/joint program, along with a Phase II.5 we participated in with them."
Based in San Diego, CA, ADI has won two Rapid Innovation Funds (RIF) through ONR and the technology is being adapted for use on Army battlefields, airborne systems and Navy Littoral Combat Ships. ADI's current Phase I and Phase II SBIRs take this project several steps further, and focus on utilizing wider bands for more modern technology. Wide bands can deliver more content at a faster rate, and real-time images and videos, which the older, legacy systems cannot provide.
This system, called Multiple Adaptive Generalized Interference Cancellation (MAGIC®), is a hardware prototype filter that can restore operation of tactical wideband UHF SATCOM systems in the presence of extreme RF interference for both narrowband and wideband interference waveforms. The technology is also applicable to both commercial terrestrial and satellite communications systems such as HSDPA, MUOS, WiMax, LTE and navigation systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS).
ADI is currently working with several primes on licensing and other ventures. They are also further defining their transition plan into two potential packages - stand-alone hardware that operates on the received signals from the antennas, and licensable cores integrated into the radio hardware.
Launched in 2003 as a father/son team, Adaptive Dynamics has successfully completed more than 20 prime and subcontracts for the Department of Defense and commercial companies. ADI has since expanded its team and moved into a 2,300 sq. ft. office/laboratory to provide the low volume manufacturing facilities needed to develop the operational prototypes required for transition.
Phase III Success: $11 million through contracts with the Navy, Air Force, and commercial sales
Topic Number: N07-089
TODAY'S COMPLEX command and control systems require a high degree of collaborative decision-making across team members. Tools are needed to measure and analyze team processes, performance, workloads, and situation awareness, in order to identify potential human bottlenecks and collaboration gaps. Realizing this necessity of macrocognition, the Office of Naval Research set out to develop a system that could specify, capture, compute and visualize measures of collaboration in a real-time, naturalistic and meaningful manner.
Aptima responded to this need by developing CoVE (the Collaborative Visualization Environment), a software-based, reconfigurable team-in-the-loop simulation that allows participants to perform operational tasks across a diverse set of domains. CoVE is a real-time measurement system that accurately assesses and represents data as it is being processed. The system supports training exercises by tracking and assessing trainee behavior and allows for the revision of distributed teams' protocols and procedures, as well as enhanced decision-making in all mission-critical domains. CoVE includes Performance Dashboards that display in real-time the team performance measures, as the exercise unfolds. This information is equally useful to the instructors, who can monitor the state of individuals and the team as a whole, and to the trainees who can identify collaboration gaps as they participate in the exercise.
The vision of CoVE was based on the fundamental notion that advanced visualization techniques alone are not sufficient to effectively support distributed planning by collaborative, heterogeneous teams. Rather, a collaborative visualization environment is needed, in which visualization tools are augmented with innovative collaboration capabilities. The CoVE environment facilitates the creation and sharing of knowledge between distributed analysts of varied expertise.
The system provides utility to a large spectrum of users across the Department of Defense, from the in-telligence community to commanding officers in all branches of the military. It also benefits the acquisition community by enabling direct testing and evaluation of new technology and its impact on distributed teams.
It was during Aptima's Phase II work with ONR that they participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) to assist in the eventual commercialization of the technology. It became very clear during the market research that CoVE had potential across multiple industries, in addition to the solutions it would bring to the DoD.
"Originally, we developed CoVE to visualize performance as it was captured though system data," explains Sylvain Bruni, Program Manager at Aptima. "We soon found it had many other applications, all dealing with people interacting with interfaces - it is now being used to visualize EKGs, heart rates and vitals, and transitioning more to human data, such as illustrating the neurophysiological measures of performance in training and simulation."
Other potential applications for CoVE include its use by experimental psychologists looking to conduct hy-pothesis testing on distributed teams of operators while gathering macrocognition measures, including operator, team and system performance. The system can also be used by government, academic and commercial research and development personnel investigating teaming and collaboration issues in distributed groups of operators, such as in the aviation, space, military, emergency or law enforcement domains.
At the culmination of the Navy TAP, the Aptima team presented its innovation at the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®, and addressed the goals the company had outlined and met through its SBIR work. CoVE successfully supported teams in generating new information of interest, and generated information requirements; it provided for visual collaboration between analysts through agile information sharing technologies; and it facilitated innovative information sharing capabilities through all phases of analysis.
"It was great to be at a venue where you had decision makers from a wide variety of agencies as well as large contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and other large prime contractors, but also other small businesses." said Bruni. "It's not about bringing in contracts right away, but getting started on conversations to align with those large companies, and that has a lot of value."
Since its SBIR work, Aptima has been awarded a $6M Phase III contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for Human Universal Measurement and Assessment Network (HUMAN) Technology, Demonstration, and Validation Program. This is an innovative program that leverages three unique Phase II contracts, including the CoVE system, to provide a comprehensive capability to demonstrate and validate technologies developed to enhance human performance based on neuroergonomic concepts and theories. Aptima has secured contracts with both the Navy and the Air Force, resulting in Phase III revenues of $11 million.
Advanced Technologies Group, Inc.
Phase III Success: $9 million through contracts with the Navy and commercial sales
Topic Number: N08-035
AS PART OF the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) program for the Navy's tactical aircraft, NAVAIR required the development of a submerged Ram Air Turbine (RAT) capable of producing 60 kW of power at a speed of 220 knots at 25,000 feet. The existing technology, which had been in place for over forty years, was only capable of half that goal, and desperately needed a power upgrade.
Advanced Technologies Group, Inc. (ATGI) responded to this request by developing a High Powered Ram Air Turbine (HiRAT). The NGJ program sought to develop new ways to disable enemy radars, however, the transmitter pods, which contain the RAT in the front of the pod, had to be reconfigured. ATGI's HiRAT system is able to produce twice the required power for a given airspeed and altitude, making it the most efficient turbine on the market. Located in the center of the pod as opposed to the front, the HiRAT allows radar equipment to be located in the forward pod section.
The power output of the turbine is controlled with an actuated exhaust outlet. This active power control system extends the flight envelope in which the turbine can be used. It also serves as an emergency shut down system. The HiRAT's elegant and aerodynamic design reduces drag and fuel consumption. As an additional benefit, the Turbine-Generator system does not include a gearbox, which considerably reduces the weight and results in less maintenance.
Although ATGI started off years behind other companies that were doing the same kind of work, they were the first to wind tunnel test full scale and develop more than required power. In 2010, the HiRAT was tested at the Naval Warfare Center wind tunnel facility in Crane, IN and came within 10 percent of the predicted power. It was then wind tested at the University of Maryland, and in the NASA Langley TDT wind tunnel, which simulates altitude and air speed, coming within 5 percent of the predicted power.
ATGI continued its work with NAVAIR with a Phase II award, and subsequently participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP).
While the company had already made great headway prior to the TAP, its participation in the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum® further fueled demand and interest among large prime contractors and military personnel.
"We certainly made good contacts at the Forum, met with Navy personnel, and even gave an impromptu presentation to several people in a hallway," says ATGI President John Justak. "The meetings with NAVAIR helped us to secure additional funding and we are currently in talks with some of the other companies on several potential applications."
ATGI has since received a Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) of $2.8M and an additional Phase III contract worth $800K, both from NAVAIR. They have collaborated with several NGJ prime contractors, and performed a flight test recently. Commercially, ATGI has targeted a wide range of applications, including working with several large prime contractors on electronic warfare and ISR applications, and on commercial airlines as an emergency power generation system. With more and more electrical power requirements going into aircraft, baseline systems are limited because they can't expand upon what they already have. The HiRAT provides a capability to add extra power to the aircraft, by simply bolting the system onto the existing wing. Depending on the power, one unit may range from tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Advanced Technologies Group has always taken a unique approach in that it aims to develop a variety of advanced technologies for commercialization.
"We look at all of the SBIR solicitations, and we look for any opportunity where our technologies can provide a solution," explains John Justak, President of Advanced Technologies Group. "We've had SBIRs with the Department of Transportation and with the Army - anything that involves turbo machinery, we know we can develop solutions across industries."
This mentality stems from a long line of research and development work, which ultimately transitioned into a wide range of technologies. While ATGI is classified as an aerospace R&D firm, it has developed optical sensors for NASA and others in the aerospace industries, gas turbine seals for aircraft engines, seals for hydrogen compressors and steam turbine applications. The result has been a steady increase in company revenue since ATGI was founded in 1996 and a reputation for being known as delivering simple, yet novel solutions to complex problems.
Cornerstone Research Group, Inc.
Phase III Success: $30 million through contracts with the Navy, Air Force, and commercial sales
Topic Number: N08-030
THE PRODUCTION OF MILITARY ground and air vehicles using lightweight composite materials has traditionally been reliant upon the autoclave to ensure high-quality composite parts. This dependency on the autoclave has rendered it difficult to manufacture high-quality parts at high volume and low cost due to labor-intensive techniques and large equipment requirements.
Looking to streamline this process, the Navy sought ways to manufacture these parts out of the autoclave. Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) responded to this need by proposing its Shape Memory Polymer (SMP) Bladder Tooling technology to be used as an out-of-autoclave (OOA) process. This tooling technology was originally developed by CRG in the late 90's for contact lens manufacturing, but the company realized the core components of the process could be applied across a wider range of applications.
The highest opportunity for cost savings in tooling for composites comes from highly complex composite geometries where conventional metal tooling is trapped or cannot be removed in a single piece. A relatively simple process of laying-up a composite part is complicated when the internal tooling must be removed after the cure. Multiple solutions exist on the market, yet these processes are highly labor-intensive or require single use tooling, which are both typically cost prohibitive.
CRG's tooling technology is built upon Shape Memory Polymers (SMPs), which are polymers whose qualities have been tailored to give them a dynamic modulus (stiffness) as a function of temperature. Under thermal stimuli, SMPs exhibit a radical change from a rigid state to a highly flexible elastic state and then return to a rigid state again when cooled. SMP Bladders are fiber reinforced thermoset composite tooling products that operate first as rigid net shaped mandrels during lay-up and later as inflatable bladder cores during cure to consolidate the composite from the inside-out. Following completion of the cure, while still above activation temperature, the SMP Bladders can be depressurized for easy extraction. SMP Bladders are capable of supporting composite cure cycles up to 365°F and temperatures between 113°F and 250°F. These unique properties solve the issue of tooling complex composite shapes by changing stiffness and form when needed.
During Cornerstone's Phase II SBIR work with NAVAIR, the company participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP). Tom Margraf, Director of Engineering for CRG's affiliate company, Spintech LLC, spoke of the various benefits of the TAP for a small research and development firm.
"The documentation prepared within the TAP program helped clearly communicate our product vision, capabilities, and benefits to customers," says Margraf. "The quad chart we constructed, along with the capabilities brochure, gave us ready-to-use tools to send to potential government and commercial customers when needed."
During the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®, Cornerstone Research Group relayed the many benefits of its tooling technology to potential customers. These benefits include increased throughput, which reduces the total process time, increased repeatability from part to part because of a rigid, net shaped, lay-up tool, and a substantial savings in manufacturing costs, up to 80 percent.
Commercially, Cornerstone Research Group has been enjoying continued success since its SBIR work with both the Navy and Air Force. Spintech LLC was established in order to manufacture the tooling product, which is now being sold as the Smart Tooling product line, while Cornerstone Research Group remains the incubation engine for new products and innovations.
CRG's work piqued the interest of Spirit AeroSystems, one of the world's largest non-OEM designers and manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial aircraft. In 2013, Spirit made public a multi-year partnership with Spintech LLC to develop a new reconfigurable tooling technology for manufacturing integrated composite aircraft structures. The solution uses re-formable, reusable mandrels to form complex, highly integrated composite structures, with features that are not possible with traditional tools. The two companies are still working together on platform development and additional next-generation product development under the trade name Inflexion® by Spirit AeroSystems.
Another key benefit of CRG's tooling technology is its life cycle and reform process. The product, which has a life cycle of about 40 cycles per tooling (compared to about 6-10 for the baseline technology), is that it does not fail during composite cure. A reform process is done between cycles, which includes a porosity safe check. This ensures that the Smart Bladder will make it through the cure cycle, and if it is determined that it will not - it won't run. This is a desired feature, since failing during the product cycle results in costly implications.
SpinTech has sold over $10 million worth of its product line to various commercial aerospace customers and others in the automotive and nuclear energy industries as well as trial deployments with NASA for large vertical launch structures. Spirit Aerospace has also invested heavily in its work with Spintech LLC.
Phase III Success: $8.6 million through contracts with the Navy, commercial sales, and licensing agreements
Topic Number: N08-146
AT FIRST GLANCE, the vivid image below might appear to be nothing more than an aerial photograph. However, when one learns the image is actually a continuous, computer-generated panorama that aids in flight simulation training, the magnitude of such clarity and detail is truly appreciated. This is what the team at Diamond Visionics (DVC) has been perfecting through multiple SBIR projects with the Navy and subsequent commercial contracts with major prime contractors.
Flight simulation for the warfighter is a critical component of training, and must provide a real-world replication in order to be successful. Building off of its innovative GenesisRTX product line for flight simulation software, Diamond Visionics embarked on another Phase II project with NAVAIR to enhance the existing technology. This time, the focus was on implementing cross-cockpit collimated displays into the existing sys-tem, which provide an even greater level of detail for the user with little to no distortions.
In flight simulators that project Out-The-Window (OTW) scenes, collimated displays are preferable to avoid disparities between a pilot and copilot. For instance, if OTW imagery is projected in front of the pilots side by side, one pilot would see the correct view, while the other would be subject to incorrect angles and distorted images. Collimated displays provide a solution to this issue by allowing the pilots to see the imagery through a mirror that has a spherical curvature. The curvature enables both pilots to see the same imagery at a distant focus with no distortions. However, up until this point, the use of expensive collimated displays to enhance the fidelity of visual systems was limited to the final phases of training due to budgetary restrictions.
To achieve a more ubiquitous use of the technology, Diamond Visionics teamed with Q4 Services on a companion Phase II project to enhance the existing system and provide it at a lower cost. Using Q4's hard-ware and DVC's software, the team set out to improve upon wide-angle horizontal displays on flight simulators. These displays involve a very large spherical mirror and screen, and projectors on the inside of the screen located above the pilot and co-pilot. The screen serves as the image surface for the spherical mirror, which in turn allows the pilots to look through their window at the spherical mirror to see the screen. This makes everything appear to be coming from an infinite distance away - the scene moves with the pilot's head and allows for a seamless, more realistic user experience. To perfect the system, the team designed the screens in a special way with frosted plexiglass, and utilized special curvature designs to extend the mirrors beyond the manufacturer's limits, building upon both companies' previous SBIR work.
This collaboration, called the EarthAngel Flyer, was an advanced technology project in the European Union to create the "Next Generation Visualization System." This program provided the opportunity to give the simulation industry the most efficient and latest commercial off-the-shelf visual training technology, which included the work of Diamond Visionics, Q4 Services, and Technology Partners, Inc.
The system is a reduced cost approach to the design of new and replacement visual systems for flight simulation. It uses commercial off-the-shelf projection systems and newly designed, low-cost back projection screens and image generation systems. The technology affords extended life to existing flight simulation devices while significantly enhancing overall visual system performance and training. The warfighter perceives a less distorted view of the virtual world, more realistic levels of brightness, resolution and fidelity, and fewer distortions and of the visual scenes in real time with maximum content.
DVC's multiple SBIR awards have resulted in its continued participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP), where the eventual commercialization of the technology is top priority. In 2011, Diamond Visionics presented its innovation at the Navy Opportunity Forum®, where hundreds of attendees in both the government and commercial sectors were able to view the prototype.
"The Navy Opportunity Forum® made it possible for us to get our newly developed products in front of business executives and military decision makers," says David Gdovin, President of Diamond Visionics. "This is how solutions that solve problems, save money, and sometimes save lives get recognized quickly."
The new collimated display system employed the proven software previously developed by DVC, which is part of its Genesis product suite. This visualization software has the unique ability to run on COTS hardware and to cost effectively render the OTW scene "on-the-fly" from GIS Source Data. This real-time rendering allows the user to rapidly change data sets with continuity so all that is required is a refresh. This eliminates the need to create an offline database, which can take months to complete.
Diamond Visionics' Genesis product line is currently being used by Boeing in many different divisions all over North America. In addition, it's used by other large aviation companies/countries around the world for helicopter and fast jet aviation tactical training. The company is also fulfilling many large commercial contracts and has sold over 2,500 licenses to prime contractors.
The cutting-edge image-generation software and visualization tools developed by the team at Diamond Visionics are in constant demand for the highest levels of training and simulation, mission rehearsal, and homeland security.
KCF Technologies, Inc.
Phase III Success: $10.6 million in contracts with the Navy, commercial sales, and licensing agreements
Topic Number: N08-006
IMAGINE THE IMMENSE BENEFITS to the fleet if helicopters had insight into their own health and could say with absolute clarity, "I need maintenance." With this idea in mind, the experts at KCF Technologies got to work and developed a technology that would soon give a "voice" to machines. The team knew that a technology like this had the capacity to save the military thousands of dollars by moving away from an aggressive preventative maintenance schedule, and moving toward condition-based maintenance.
Currently, the Department of Defense implements preventative maintenance to ensure safety and optimal performance among its helicopter fleet. However, flight conditions vary widely depending on how each helicop-ter is used, and one chopper may see a lot more stress than another. The preventative maintenance schedule is set based on worst-case operating conditions, which leads to overly conservative and costly maintenance in most cases or failure in other extremely severe operating conditions. With condition-based maintenance, failures are cost effectively prevented.
So how does this seemingly futuristic technology work? By putting self-powered wireless sensors on the main rotor and monitoring the load, or the strain that passes through the pitch link rod arm. All of the load that is seen during flight on the wings passes through the pitch link, so the load can be monitored and the stress to the main rotor can be determined and communicated wirelessly. Energy is then harvested from that strain, so the stress that is created is harvested as kinetic energy to power the sensor. The model is completely contained, and the operating life of the helicopter is extended.
Maintenance is only performed when it is needed, as opposed to being performed on an aggressive sched-ule. The ability to detect problems and prevent failure has significant safety and cost benefits, since the cost of failure is extremely high, both in lives and dollars.
When KCF Technologies presented its innovation at the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®, they were met with substantial interest from many attendees.
"Our core strategy is to identify prime contractors, and the Forum is a great venue to do that," explains David Shannon, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for KCF Technologies. "We are enabling machinery to have the ability to sense its condition and relay that condition to the operator, so it's applicable to ships as well. The Forum presents an opportunity to in-teract with others who may not be our direct sponsors, but who could certainly benefit from our technology."
KCF has collaborated with primes including Sikorsky Aircraft, LORD, and a handful of others both in the military and commercial sectors. They are currently implementing sensors on Black Hawk and H-53 helicopters through various contracts with NAVAIR and funding from Sikorsky.
After evolving over the years from various SBIR awards, the technology seamlessly transitioned to the commercial marketplace due to the fact that all machines, no matter the industry, require maintenance at some point. KCF realized that making machines smarter about their own health was a coveted feature that would increase applicability across many spectrums. KCF's SmartDiagnostics® product line is a suite of energy harvester powered wireless condition-based maintenance sensor systems.
According to the DOE, the cost of reactive maintenance on machinery is $750 billion on the US economy per year. If you add in the indirect costs associated with downtime and shutting down operations, etc., then that number rises to about $2.5 trillion per year.
The SmartDiagnostics® suite of products can be found in moving parts within large industrial fans/air handling units, water pumps, paper plants, big rollers and the bearings within, unconventional natural gas drilling units, trains, and the large motor units within those trains.
To ensure high-bandwidth, high-reliability wireless communication at the lowest possible energy budget, SmartDiagnostics® sensors utilize a highly efficient, proprietary wireless protocol. The protocol is optimized to transmit full dynamic vibration spectrum using only the power available from KCF's energy harvesters.
The power generation industry stands to reap enormous benefits from condition-based maintenance and the self-powered sensors that enable it, as failure of any of the large, moving parts could cause a huge disturbance in the process.
Transitioning technologies to the commercial marketplace is one of the fundamental components of KCF's business strategy and it has served them well. Every Phase II project KCF has embarked upon has resulted in a successfully launched commercial product.
"We are an innovation engine," says Shannon. "We want to see that innovation serve the government as well as the commercial marketplace. We develop technology, leverage government programs, and then align with strategic partners who execute large-scale projects. It is a win/win for all, and we value the SBIR program because it gives us the tools we need to commercialize."
Optical Physics Company
Phase III Success: Over $3 million through contracts with the Navy and private investments
Topic Number: N08-073
GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM (GPS) is heavily relied upon by airborne Navy platforms in order to accurately gauge one's location on the Earth. This location knowledge usually includes heading, altitude, and the latitude and longitude of the Earth coordinates directly below the aircraft. GPS also impacts the success of many military missions, such as target tracking and missile and projectile guidance, making its presence a vital component of any military operation. But what happens when GPS becomes unavailable, whether from jamming, or entering a GPS-denied environment? The INS (Inertial Navigation System) component of GPS will accumulate errors, which degrade the accuracy of the system output. The longer the GPS signals are not available, the worse the error becomes.
Optical Physics Company (OPC), located in Calabasas, California, drew upon a centuries-old method to locate a solution and alternative for GPS navigation. Celestial Navigation is a process by which positions on the globe are measured using angles between celestial objects in the sky and the horizon. Whereas the archaic technique required a sextant, an almanac, and a clock, OPC developed a modern-day system using its patented interferometric star tracker. The resulting product is OPC's Optical Celestial Navigation System (OCNS), and it has been met with high demand across multiple industries. The OCNS operates independently of GPS, and cannot be jammed. The other major benefit to the fleet is its passiveness - OCNS does not give off any signals that could be detected by an enemy.
OPC's star tracker project got its start in 2006, when the team developed a star tracker design and demonstrated its high accuracy in the lab. A series of prototypes intended for spacecraft use followed. The military soon became very interested in finding alternatives to GPS due to jamming issues, and wanted a way to navigate using the stars. The method that OPC eventually proposed was selected by ONR, and the company began its Phase I SBIR work on a shortwave infrared (SWIR) band interferometric star tracker.
OPC continued working on its star tracker, and through a subsequent Phase II award, produced its prototype for use on airborne platforms. During the Phase II project, OPC participated in the Navy
Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP), and presented a prototype design of the OCNS at the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®. However, it was the online presence within the Virtual Acquisition Showcase (VAS) leading up to the Forum that really catapulted the company into the limelight.
"While being at the Forum was great, being online as part of the Virtual Acquisition Showcase was even better," says Dr. Gail Erten, Marketing Director for Optical Physics. "A lot of interested customers are looking at that online showcase, doing the research ahead of time for keywords, or even looking at the whole list, and zooming in on specific booths. Those are the kind of customers we felt were real potentials for us."
Serendipitously, Northrop Grumman was browsing the VAS online, and called up Optical Physics directly. They noticed they were located only a short distance from their Los Angeles facilities, and proposed an in-person meeting, well before the actual Forum took place. The collaboration resulted in a Navy Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) contract award and Phase III revenue for Optical Physics.
Under the Navy RIF, OPC's Optical Celestial Navigation System was outfitted with Northrop Grumman's inertial measurement unit (IMU) instruments resulting in a complete navigation system pro-totype, which will be field tested on stationary and moving ground base platforms followed by a flight test in mid 2014.
The major benefit of the star tracker system to customers is that it can be configured in a variety of ways depending on the platform. OPC has experimented with several alternative techniques to use the OCNS for navigation in GPS-denied environments, and is formulating different types of the system for those applications. They are also working with the Air Force for other applications of their star tracker for sensors serving space situational awareness missions.
Additionally, there exists vast potential for the interferometric star tracker's use on spacecraft. OPC is currently working on a miniature interferometric star tracker for cubesats (C-MiST) that will be delivered late this year.
Current projects on configuring the star tracker will result in a full product suite of OPC's interferometric star tracker that supports a variety of applications, ranging from spacecraft to ground based space situational awareness to celestial navigation, allowing both military operations and space exploration initiatives the certainty of unobstructed and precise geolocation capabilities.
Out of the Fog Research LLC
Phase III Success: Over $9.5 million through contracts with the Navy
Topic Number: N07-149
THE RECEPTION AND TRANSMISSION of signals through a shipboard's electromagnetic system requires acquisition and Direction Finding (DF) signals at or near the thermal noise floor. The overall system must have a low noise figure and high spurious free dynamic range. To achieve this, an extremely harsh electromagnetic environment over a broad aperture is needed, requiring the Radio Frequency Distribution System (RFDS) to extend its operating frequency range. This extension requires new and innovative approaches to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) mitigation.
Electromagnetic Interference impacts military missions by reducing available data rates and preventing signal interception in some channels entirely. Since most channels are shared, this interference impacts many users simultaneously. If this interference could be removed from the band without impacting the signal detection, or if that portion of the band could be removed without impacting the radio, the utility of the channels would be greatly increased.
When the Navy sought a solution, Out of the Fog Research LLC (OFR), a small business based in Silicon Valley, California, knew it could provide the needed technology. Focused on the development of advanced RF technology solely for the government, and particularly on High-Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) and cryogenic technology, Out of the Fog Research had been working on a similar hardware system designed for lower frequencies. Although the new project, funded by Navy SBIR awards, required the company to venture into new, higher frequency ranges, the resulting system not only achieved admirable success, but also struck some major interest across the Department of Defense.
"In addition to the Navy, both the Air Force and the Army need effective EMI mitigation technology to reduce co-located interference, common battle group generated interference, and jamming signals," explains Dr. Stuart Berkowitz, President of OFR. "By removing this interference, the probability of detecting Signals of Interest (SOI) is increased, which is critical to the warfighter."
OFR's hardware, which is easily mounted into the radome of the antenna, provides an extra capability without having to overhaul the entire system. The hardware essentially conditions the signal so that the interference is removed and the signal users want to listen to can be intercepted.
During the Phase II SBIR program, OFR presented its concept at the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®. Although the presentation drew high praise, perhaps the biggest benefit to come out of the Forum for the company was an incidental meeting with the Navy Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) Program Manager, who informed OFR about the opportunity for additional funding. With that knowledge, the company pursued the RIF and ultimately acquired a $1.5 million contract.
The RIF project resulted in a full prototype delivered to the Navy. Currently, the lead system integrator is working with the Navy to purchase production versions of the hardware. They hope to achieve their goal of delivering 10 systems a year by 2015. In addition, the Navy Cryptological Carry-On Program (CCOP) has purchased numerous units of the lower frequency version over a multi-year order. As for its low frequency system, Out of the Fog Research has delivered 46 systems under a Phase III production contract.
Out of the Fog Research LLC is unique in its business strategy, in that it aims to provide superior technol-ogy to military and intelligence end-user customers, as opposed to targeting commercial applications. Agency personnel know they can call Dr. Berkowitz and his team directly to develop and deliver advanced solutions for the U.S. government. It is because of this personalized service and 50/50 split between R&D and production, that OFR has experienced continued success since its founding in 2004.
With just 10 employees, Out of the Fog Research has a tremendously high commercialization index of over 95 and generates $4-6 million a year in revenue.
Phase III Success: $5.8 million through contracts with the Navy and commercial sales
Topic Number: N07-193
WHEN THE TECHNICAL EXPERTS at Referentia Systems originally embarked on their Phase I SBIR with ONR to meet both Quality of Service (QoS) and situational awareness goals within the Navy's networks, they already had their commercial success mapped out in their minds. Although very few companies at that time ever changed their QoS policies, Referentia visualized the immense benefits that doing so would have for both the fleet and private companies alike with the growing use of mobile devices and access to private and public clouds. More strategically, this ease of comprehending networks and reconfiguring/adapting the infrastructure has given Referentia a head start in the rapid growth area of software-defined networks (SDN).
Quality of Service refers to the overall performance of a network, and in overloaded military networks, the priority of information needs to be meticulously managed to ensure optimal communication. The key SBIR goal for the technology was to develop a network management tool for the U.S. Navy that allowed for more dynamic visibility and control over the routers, links, and flows to meet the commander's intent of ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communications. Referentia had talked to potential customers in the Marines and by identifying and locating the needs, they had a clear understanding of the solution. The result was Referentia's Network Planning and Real-time Automated Management System (NetPARAMS).
"It was a combination of not just being able to change Quality of Service policies or make it more in-teractive, but including the situational awareness of the network so you could first understand how your network is behaving," explains Keith Abe, Program Manager at Referentia Systems. "If there were issues, you could determine which QoS policy you needed to implement, use the QoS control to fix the problem and validate the fix through the dynamic visibility."
Despite the Navy's complex environment of dynamic changes, typically configurations are set and not changed. Referentia realized that the Navy needed to support dynamic changes to QoS, Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) routing, Policy- Based routing (PBR), Access Control List (ACL) management and other configurations to efficiently use the network resources to provide situational awareness and effective mission execution. Referentia's solution could be used across a wide array of platforms, aircraft, and UAVs. NetPARAMS would improve network responsiveness to changing conditions and use of bandwidth over multiple links, resulting in improved quality of real-time applications and joint communications for coalition partners by minimizing human operator intervention and errors.
After winning a Phase II award through SPAWAR, Referentia's participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) prepared them for the high demand they would soon meet from both the military and commercial sectors.
"Being part of the TAP helped us get involved with a process to take a look at how best to commercialize our technology and the best practices to follow," says Abe. "If we just kept developing, we would probably still be in the lab right now. Being part of the TAP helped us have that discipline to look at transitioning the product to acquisition programs and to have a marketing plan and a presentation to go along with that."
Referentia subsequently won a Phase II.5 with SPAWAR, and a RIF contract worth $2.2 million to deploy NetPARAMS within the tactical ashore switching program. Referentia also took advantage of the DoD mentor/protege program, and aligned with Lockheed Martin, which soon became one of Referentia's main supporters. With the help of Lockheed Martin, Referentia was able to plan for insertions into DoD acquisition programs and transition its military technology to a commercial product line, which they called LiveAction.
LiveAction has been used mostly for advanced network management and the company is now starting to market the product for cyber security. For example, LiveAction will work together with cyber sensors in a company's network, helping to provide situational awareness to understand the inside of the network, rather than just looking at its perimeter. If the perimeter is the sole focus for locating threats, then there is only a split-second window to catch that threat. Having situational awareness inside the organizational network allows the user to see and track patterns related to how threats are trying to communicate, facilitating an earlier catch.
Let's say a sensor sees a threat and it is validated through LiveAction's visualization capabilities. The control aspect of the product allows the user to control the threat. They may reduce the QoS, rather than shutting off the threat. By slowing it down, the issue can be observed, or even rerouted to a "honey-pot," which can be isolated and monitored for further analysis. This allows the user to gain intel, rather than just booting the threat. With this same tool, companies can perform network management and implement the most ad-vanced cyber security.
Currently, Referentia, who maintains an NMCI certification, is working with several key customers to implement its cyber security capabilities. Headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, Referentia is a certified Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) with locations across the United States.
Vehicle Control Technologies
Phase III Success: $9.1 million through contracts with the Navy and commercial sales
Topic Number: N06-186
UNDERWATER SEA MINES are easy to make and simple to deploy, yet they are notoriously difficult to detect and remove. Even the threat of their use can disrupt global commerce.
There is a worldwide push to make mine countermeasures faster, safer, and more cost effective. With these goals in mind, the U.S. Navy is investing heavily in subsea robotics. Sonars and cameras deployed on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) have furthered this mission for decades. Now, with the help of the U.S. Navy and the SBIR program, VCT has developed and commercialized a new type of vehicle to aid in the fight - the Powered Tow Body (PTB).
PTB challenges several old assumptions about mine countermeasures technology. The first is that towed bodies make poor platforms for high-resolution, side-looking synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) because they are unsteady due to wave-induced motions. Another misconception is that towed bodies (especially light-weight ones) must trail far behind the ship, rendering the process of looking ahead of the ship impractical. These assumptions have engendered a preference for AUVs to perform mine countermeasures, resulting in short missions due to battery life, a lack of real-time data analysis, and an ever-present risk of total vehicle loss. PTB technology overcomes these outdated beliefs.
Combining the best aspects of towed and autonomous vehicles, PTB is a towed platform for underwater sensors that can operate at a fixed position relative to the towing craft. It can do this because it has a propeller, active control fins, and sophisticated software that allow it to remain steady. Like an AUV, it can run SAS to image the seafloor and use forward-looking sonar to look ahead of the tow craft. Like a towed vehicle, it can run indefinitely on topside power and deliver data in real-time.
PTB's innovations stemmed from VCT's previous modeling, analysis, and design of more than one hundred classical tow body vehicles. Because a classical tow body is attached to a surface vessel by a cable, it sways and pitches due to ship motion. In contrast, the Powered Tow Body uses propulsive thrust and control software to create a stable loop in the cable, eliminating about 80% of the induced motion. And with more thrust, the vehicle can move deeper and farther forward without additional heft and bulk.
After completing a Phase I and II with NAVSEA, Vehicle Control Technologies focused on commercializing its product. The company's participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) and the Navy Opportunity Forum® facilitated that vision by providing the necessary focus and preparation needed for transition.
"We made some great contacts at the Navy Opportunity Forum ®, and we have several outstanding proposals that resulted from the event," explains Dr. Douglas E. Humphreys, President of Vehicle Control Technologies.
Since then, VCT has sold three of its Powered Tow Bodies, resulting in over $5.6 million in commercial sales. They also received a Phase III ONR contract worth $2.4 million to further develop the PTB concept.
The U.S. Navy helped develop PTB to accelerate large-area mine clearance operations. In a mine clear-ance scenario, a PTB would be deployed on board an Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV). The USV could speed to the minefield from a safe standoff distance and deploy and recover the PTB autonomously.
In the export market, PTB has found an application as a towed sonar on mine-hunting ships. Its ability to stay underneath the ship while near the seafloor makes it a valuable tool to look ahead of the ship and detect mines.
"We have a truly multipurpose sonar system that can travel forward of the ship's stern for forward-looking sonar and also perform the side-scan mission," explains Humphreys. "The benefit is that heavy variable depth sonars towed at considerable distance behind the ship can now be replaced with a lighter-weight towed unit that operates right below the stern of the tow ship."
In addition to mine hunting, PTB's inherent steadiness, endurance, and real-time data capabilities can also be applied to ISR, ASW, and oceanographic missions. And for customers interested in both PTB and AUV capabilities, PTB can operate equally well as a tethered or autonomous platform.