DTS awarded SBIR grants to advance US Air Force and NASA flight crew safety

DTS (Diversified Technical Systems) has been awarded two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contracts to develop miniature data acquisition systems for flight crew safety testing by both the US Air Force Research Lab and NASA. DTS was selected for each project based on their expertise in test and measurement solutions for crash, blast and injury biomechanics testing.

DTS’s data acquisition systems and sensors are used for dynamic product and safety testing in a variety of industries. These systems embed directly in or on test articles near the point of interest, without long cable runs, slip rings or altering test dynamics.

The DTS ‘blue boxes’ will be engineered to collect physical measurements including triaxial linear and angular acceleration for two very different applications. NASA’s focus is on low-level accelerations over extended time periods, while USAF testing is centered on short duration events. NASA’s Dynamic Kinematic Recorder (DKR), as it’s being called, will be used to measure vibration data that spaceflight crews may experience during launch and re-entry periods. The USAF Dynamic Impact Recorder (DIR) will measure more intense head and neck accelerations that pilots may be subjected to during ejection seat events.

How and where each unit will be mounted and powered are critical to the development process. With the goal of positioning the recorder as close as possible to the point of interest, which could be on or in a helmet, the real challenge for DTS design engineers becomes size, mass and center-of-gravity (CoG). DTS’ ultra-low power designs are significantly smaller and lighter than similar systems on the market. Each unit will feature six degree of freedom (6DOF) sensing and onboard memory, which means all data will be stored in place to non-volatile memory.

Phase 1 deliveries include working prototypes, which will be evaluated against key metrics to assess performance and accuracy of the units. The NASA DKR is scheduled to be complete in January 2019 and the USAF DIR is scheduled for April 2019. One or both may be followed by a Phase II SBIR, in which the concept design is then refined into a finished product.

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