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New sensor measures aircraft velocity by bouncing lasers off air molecules

by • July 14, 2016 • No Comments

British defense and aerospace company BAE Systems has come up with a few informative innovation over the years, that include armored vehicles that utilized Formula 1 suspension tech, and army helmets that use bone conduction for comms. Now, it is actually looking to improve how we measure airspeed, replacing conventional, air-pressure-based processs with tech that bounces around ultraviolet lasers to get the job done.

Conventional air speed sensors take the form of small tubes, known as pitot tubes, that protrude of aircraft. These are combined with small holes positioned at right-angles to the way of flight, positioned either a fewwhere on the pitot tubes themselves, or elsewhere on the aircraft.

The conditions inside the right-angle holes describe the normal conditions outside the aircraft, a fewthing that’s known as “static” air pressure, while those inside the pitot tubes, that are positioned towards the way of flight, more detail the pressure made by the forward motion of the aircraft. The difference between the two observed pressures is utilized to indicate airspeed.

Pitot tubes usually have heating apparatus created in, but they’re yet prone to icing up under quite cold conditions. By their quite nature, they’re in addition vulnerable to collisions with birds, and they’re not particularly accurate at low speeds.

The new process, known as the Laser Air Speed Sensing Instrument (LASSI), was created by BAE Systems scientists working in Chelmsford in the UK. Instead of relying on air pressure, the new innovation makes use of an ultraviolet laser.

The laser is utilized to bounce light off the surrounding air molecules, and the alter in the color of the reflected beam, as cautilized by the Doppler Effect, is measured.

This can be idea of in a much like way to the classic police siren example of the Doppler Effect. Just as the sound of the approximately object is altered as the frequency of the wave alters when the object moves nearer and and so additional away, the frequency of the laser light (and therefore its color) is in addition altered depending on the relative velocity of the air molecules reflecting the light back to the detector.

The ultraviolet light is invisible to the human eye, but small alters in its color can be picked up by the process’s detector. Essentially, the larger the degree of color alter in the reflected light, the faster air molecules are moving relative to the craft, and therefore the faster the vehicle is moving.

BAE has may already conducted ground vehicle and wind tunnel testing of LASSI, and the team is now looking to scale down the process, targeting use in aircraft inside the upcoming five years. Overall, the it may provide a big upgrade over current methods.

“LASSI can be located completely inside the aircraft and is accurate at low airspeeds.” said BAE Systems’ Dr Leslie Laycock. “These showcases should ensure that the equipment is robust against injure, requires less maintenance and be simpler to operate at lower airspeeds.”

Source: BAE Systems


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