The Tiny Chip That Can Track Its Location WITHOUT Satellites

13.4.13 / FAB / CHIP – chip could be used is small munitions to allow them to find their target even if the GPS system is damaged or unavailable

The Tiny Chip That Can Track Its Location WITHOUT Satellites

  • – System developed to target weapons if GPS system is unavailable
  • – Tiny chip contains three gyroscopes, three accelerometers and a master clock
  • – Could also be used in consumer satnavs as a backup

GPS has become a part of everyday life for most of us, with phones, cars, boats and planes relying on the network of satellites to pinpoint their location.

However, the US military has revealed a tiny chip, small enough to fit on a penny, that could do away with the need for an expensive network of orbiting base stations.

The tiny chip contains three gyroscopes, three accelerometers and a master clock, and when combined with computer software, can work out exactly where it is going.

Three pieces of information are needed to navigate between known points ‘A’ and ‘B’ with precision: orientation, acceleration and time.

This new chip integrates state-of-the-art devices that can measure all three simultaneously. 

The sensors and a timing unit are all in a tiny 10 cubic millimeter package. 

Each of the six microfabricated layers of the TIMU is only 50 microns thick, approximately the thickness of a human hair.

‘Combined, these tools can track what direction the chip is moving and how fast, and its tiny size means it can be put on just about anything without much effect on its weight or shape,’ says DARPA, the US military research agency.

The chip takes up just 10 cubic millimeters, and as the picture shows, fits neatly into the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a penny. It contains three gyroscopes and three accelerometers (one of both for each directional axis), and a highly accurate master clock.

This is useful for creating small drones and robots, ordnance that adjusts its own trajectory, and of course as a backup when more powerful positioning systems go down.

The device is so small it could even be placed in bullets and small missiles.

‘Both the structural layer of the sensors and the integrated package are made of silica,’ said Andrei Shkel, DARPA program manager. 

‘The resulting chip 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.’

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