Military sensor systems typically require between three and eight years to complete, resulting in sensor technology unable to keep pace with rapidly evolving mission needs. Commercial systems of similar complexity, forced by competitive pressures, are routinely developed in one to two years.
The ADAPT program seeks novel techniques and processes to rapidly develop low-cost ISR sensor systems by adapting commercial manufacturing approaches. The primary goal of the ADAPT program is to deliver common hardware and software that can be quickly configured to perform a variety of mission-specific ISR applications.
The elements of the ADAPT concept are divided into three areas: A reusable hardware core, reusable software, and sensor-specific applications. The reusable hardware core aims to leverage low-cost commercial components available at the time of manufacture, enabling it to be refreshed at the rate of commercial technologies. For example, commercial consumer electronic products are typically developed using Original Design Manufacturers (ODM) who promote fabless product development in factories that make a large number of variations on similar products. ADAPT seeks to use ODMs for design and production rather than the common practice of using contract manufacturers.
Reusable software efforts will addresses sensor management functions such as processing, storage, communications, navigation and orientation—all of which are common to a wide variety of sensor systems. These are also the same types of functions used in smart phone products which will allow leveraging of commercial technology for economies of scale. Consumer software can be developed quickly by using open-source software frameworks that include application development and distribution environments. These rich software tools and libraries create opportunities for nimble, third party application developers to rapidly create and refine software products. The ADAPT program will leverage similar commercial software development environments for smartphone products to enable new classes of sensor system application developers.
Sensors currently require production of common hardware and software for each sensor-specific application. Sensors created in the ADAPT program will benefit from not having to develop and produce common hardware and software. Military missions will define specific sensors, packaging and power systems to be used depending upong the mission performance requirements. Processing, storage, communication, navigation, orientation and sensor management functions will be handled by the reusable core hardware and software.
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