Bridger Photonics Inc.'s frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) ladar technology is relatively low cost, can be completely fiber based, and can operate over a broad range of wavelengths. Therefore it can enable a variety of interesting applications in both Government and commercial sectors including: 1) Flexible resolution systems with centimeter to nanometer accuracies for short and medium range chirped laser radar. Applications include autonomous aircraft and vehicle navigation, and object identification. The high sensitivity has interested US Navy customers with classified targets. 2) Bridger Photonics is working with the US Navy - NAVAIR to utilize the highly linear frequency sweeps to enable a non-mechanical, moderate range resolution (mm), real-time three-dimensional scanning laser radar system. This support tool will be utilized as an enhanced navigation aid during helicopter landings during low-visibility such as in brown-outs or in fog. The system also has the capability to warn pilots of small features such as wires or other fine obstacles. 3) Bridger has experienced extensive commercial interest for industrial metrology and machine vision ranging from the calibration of coordinate measuring machines to the inspection of parts and components for quality control.
The main target application for NASA is to utilize this multi-point trilateration system to monitor and control the length of critical supporting mechanisms associated with deployable space structures such as extremely large, segmented primary mirrors, trusses and booms for secondary optics and mission scientific instruments. Such deployable space structures are being considered for deployment such as the Advanced Technology Large Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST). However, a variety of other space missions could benefit from highly distributed 3D coordinate estimation. For example, satellite to satellite position monitoring could be performed, or the system could be utilized for tracking positional state vectors for synthetic aperture radar interferometry. Given a suitable reference satellite, the system could also be utilized to provide accurate reference positions and attitudes for other satellites. The flexible resolution laser radar system itself also has applications in autonomous navigation and could be utilized to position and fly a variety of sensors, on UAVs, planes or robotic drones in space or to control swarms of satellites. It could also be utilized during docking maneuvers between manned and unmanned space vehicles and would be especially useful when extremely fine accuracies are required. 3D imagers based upon the same core technology could also aid in imaging of unidentified space debris and examining spacecraft for damage.