The Bennett Aerospace Advanced Technology Division (ATD) is the Research and Development arm of the company. Internally staffed with PhD-level scientists and engineers, ATD is supported by a carefully-selected array of professionals from universities and industries across the United States and the globe.
The primary goal of ATD is to create novel and game-changing technologies that result in radical and positive benefits to society as a whole.
Bennett Aerospace ATD is supported by exceptional and award-winning scientists and engineers in Medicine, RF Communications, Nanoscale Materials, Physics, and numerous Engineering disciplines. Additional support is provided by our network of world-renown universities, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies.
Bennett Technical Services applies our advanced, PhD-level R&D knowledge and expertise base to provide commercial enterprises and government agencies with exceptional on-site service and support.
Core Capabilities and Projects
Body Armor is critical for the protection of those in harm’s way. Effective body armor is especially critical for the protection of our men and women in the U.S. Armed Services. To date, body armor has saved thousands of lives, yet much more can be done. There are new material advances in the lab that have not made the transition to the field.
Bennett Aerospace is at the forefront of creating new, innovative body armor. We have active materials research programs focused on improving body armor protection for those in harm’s way—on the battlefield and in the patrol car. We are focused on increasing the effectiveness of soft armor, while decreasing the weight and cost.
As with other applications, we are looking to new discoveries in nanoscale materials that will scale up for armor protection. In some cases, the materials we are examining have reached the theoretical strength of the material—a tremendous accomplishment.
FINDING POWER IN INNOVATIVE PLACES
Many up-and-coming technologies seek to extract power from nature (wind, sun, etc.) in an effort to not only consume less fossil fuel but to reduce our dependence on often heavy and exhaustible containers of power such as batteries. With as many digital and electronic gadgets that we seem to be carrying, seeking innovative sources of power that allow a smartphone or GPS unit to operate all day has become a hot-button issue.
Additionally, our military Warfighters must carry large amounts of heavy equipment—often for long distances—including batteries, fuel cells, or other energy-harvesting devices to ensure the teams have power required to operate radios, GPS receivers, laser range finders, physiological monitoring systems, and any other critical electrical device these Warriors must bear on their backs. Because humans naturally have limits to what can be reasonably carried, mission times and the related duration of power available to the Warfighter must be carefully balanced, when possible.
Using some of the newest and most ground-breaking developments in laboratory research—and with a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award in hand—Bennett Aerospace is developing a near-term Warfighter-worn system that will recharge and/ or supplement conventional energy storage devices. The VoltFlex™ system utilizes thin-film, robust, flexible piezoelectric nanostructures that convert kinetic energy (such as walking) into electrical energy. Future developments will allow for sustained in-field electrical recharging, harvesting energy from automobile motion and foot traffic, and a vast array of sensor applications, including passive real-time personal health monitoring for athletes and the elderly.
MAKING AUGMENTED REALITY REAL
The ubiquitous smartphone is becoming standard equipment for any well-connected consumer. These hand-held computers can direct you to a well-reviewed and appropriately priced restaurant, provide you with turn-by-turn directions, and snap high-quality digital images on demand. Yet, they still require that your eyes be directed at a tiny screen rather than at the world around you. Bennett Aerospace aims to dramatically eliminate this restriction via lightweight, transparent, holographic waveguide displays in an eyeglasses form factor that will overlay information (directions, pictures, video, etc.) onto the world around you—a direct and effective application of Augmented Reality.
Holographic Waveguide Display (HWD) technology provides an innovative approach to overlaying imagery onto the world around us. Conventional displays block light whereas HWDs steer light, resulting in a much more efficient display. Furthermore, our HWDs provide the user with a large field of view (FOV) and large eye box while also providing excellent real-world transmission.
HWDs begin with a microdisplay incorporating illumination, control circuitry, the display panel, and optics into a very small package (less than 1/8 of a cubic inch). The image is then sent into a waveguide, essentially a thin piece of glass or plastic, where holography enables the light to be directed to specific points within your visual field without negatively affecting your situational awareness. In other words, you can read an email or text without bumping into a light post or falling into a fountain in the mall!
Bennett Aerospace is developing HWDs for use with augmented reality and wearable computing applications for both the military and consumer marketplaces including helmet-mounted displays, visors, windshields, and HWD goggles/ eyeglasses—virtually any environment where information needs to be conveyed to a person without restricting his or her situational awareness and visual field. Potential users are quite varied and include medical personnel, infantry and Special Forces, commercial and military pilots, and anyone who wants to interact with a computer or smartphone but is often inconvenienced by needing to stare at a tiny screen.
U.S. Navy ship radio frequency (RF) communication systems typically require many transceivers (TX) and receivers (RX) to operate within the same frequency band simultaneously without mutual interference. The small topside area available also necessitates that these systems be connected to the same transmit and receive antennas. Legacy systems that exist today allow the simultaneous collocated RF TX/ RX operation but do so by incurring large signal power loss and inefficient frequency use by requiring separation of TX and RX signals to avoid interference.
Bennett Aerospace, along with Liberty University, is developing a high-frequency (HF) radio distribution system that will consolidate signals from multiple transmitters and receivers onto few antennas for the Navy. This optimized RF distribution system will provide power savings, minimal insertion loss, reduced broadband noise levels, and allow transmit/ receive signals to be placed closer together. Our design can virtually eliminate all intermodulation and interference mechanisms for co-located antenna systems—a proven solution for the Navy ship topside environment.
Our technology will allow us to remove interference from co-located transmit receive systems on any land, mobile, maritime or airborne system in the HF frequency bands while reducing total system power consumption, minimum frequency separation of transmit/ receive signal pairs compared to legacy systems.
Non-Mechanical Laser Steering
Producing a high-power laser that can illuminate a target many meters (or kilometers) away is relatively easy when compared to accurately steering that laser to any desired point in space. Traditional laser beam steering systems (or scanners) are bulky, power-hungry, and vibration-prone mechanical systems. Being able to steer a laser beam from its source to its target quickly, efficiently, precisely, with a minimum amount of hardware, and with high mechanical stability will allow laser scanning—both in transmit and receive modes—to be used almost anywhere (e.g., the outer hull of Navy warships, the wings of aircraft). More specifically, novel, ultra-low size, weight, and power (SWaP) devices for electro-optic laser beam steering are needed.
Solutions that have been explored include microlens arrays, Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), liquid crystals, holographic glass, and birefringent prisms. All of these approaches suffer from one or more of the following limitations: low throughput, scattering, small steering angle/ aperture, high fabrication cost, and large size/ weight. There is much room for improvement. Bennett Aerospace, in conjunction with North Carolina State University, is developing a solution that will address, and in many cases exceed, all of these limitations along with several additional benefits. Based on novel diffractive optical elements called polarization gratings (PGs), our solution is a non-mechanical, high throughput, wide-angle steerer. Since the technology is embodied into stacks of glass plates and employs commercial materials, similar to LCD TVs and monitors, it has a low-risk potential to scale to larger apertures and be manufactured in low cost in volume. Furthermore, the Bennett Aerospace solution will not require a gimbal-mount, needing only a flat, non-mechanical window for beam transmission.
Our laser beam steering solution will enable fast scanning, eye-safe operation, and high field of regard. Commercial application spaces include medical (eye, cosmetic, surgical systems), optical computing, free-space communications, and lidar systems. Military applications are similarly broad, encompassing surreptitious detection, long-range imaging, night vision, and directed energy systems.
TRANSCENDING RADAR: TODAY’S KNOWLEDGE OF TOMORROW’S STORMS
Bennett Aerospace has teamed with Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) to develop a water vapor light detection and ranging (lidar) system, termed the WaV-Pro™ System. Lidar, sometimes known as laser radar, transmits laser pulses (rather than radio waves) into the atmosphere and then detects the scattered and reflected light in order to measure linear distances and to determine characteristics of the atmosphere itself. The WaV-Pro™ System will achieve this in an eye-safe manner to quantify the water vapor content in the air, a key ingredient that determines if we will experience rain and thunderstorms or just a cloudy but dry afternoon.
Whereas radar allows weather forecasters to make predictions for a given area based on real-time data of neighboring areas, WaV-Pro™ will enable them to accurately determine when and where weather events will occur based on the current atmospheric conditions. The National Weather Service has called WaV-Pro™ “The Next Biggest Thing Since Weather Radar.” It will fill the critical missing gap to enable highly accurate, real-time weather prediction and future climate modeling.
Accurately foretelling the weather will save billions of dollars and days of time effectively lost to unforeseen weather-related delays affecting commuters, airlines, shipping and transportation. Countless industries and agencies will greatly benefit from regained opportunity costs. For example, the Department of Defense stands to benefit through more effective tactical planning; NASA stands to benefit through more decisive space launch weather windows and the ability to calibrate weather satellite on orbit with ground-truth sensor; and oceanic shipping stands to benefit through more efficient routing around oncoming storm systems.
CAPTION: Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech Research Institute
IS YOUR HOTEL OR BARRACK BEDBUG FREE?
Bedbugs have hit near-epidemic proportions for retirement homes, especially when the elderly cannot communicate that bedbugs are biting them on a daily basis. Bedbug bites are often not noticed or can even be confused for bedsores by the untrained eye. Bennett Aerospace is using technology developed for explosive sensing to provide an inexpensive, easy-to-use method for scanning for bedbugs on a continuous basis.
Our novel biosensing technology development takes advantage of new developments in biosensing technology that detects biological and synthetic chemicals ‘odors’. The biosensing device provides users with a handheld device that is ready for use 24/ 7 and delivers the ability to detect chemicals as good as or better than dogs. The biosensing technology has been proven to detect explosives, various drugs, food contaminants and bedbugs. Already at a high technology readiness level, the Bennett Aerospace biosensing device is ready to transition to mass production and widely distributed use by both government agencies and commercial businesses.
For millennia textiles have been used for clothing, warmth and even decoration in the form of tapestries. Intelligent Textiles, or E-Textiles, are fiber- or thread-based forms (woven and nonwoven usually associated with cloth) that have capabilities that go far beyond traditional textile uses, such as clothing for covering, warmth and protection. And often, E-Textiles is simply interpreted to mean simply sewing a microprocessor into a sleeve or garment or more effectively managing wires by having them run through layers of a garment. We are adamant that Intelligent Textiles means so much more and represents one of the coming revolutions to positively affect society.
Bennett Aerospace is developing new, cutting edge Intelligent Textile applications that integrate sensing hardware directly into fabric, apply nanoscale cross-discipline research to create an immense range of new applications, such as energy harvesting from thin piezoelectric films integrated into garments, wound dressing for scar-free healing, inflatable structures, and three-dimensional woven forms that can nearly instantly be formed into any shape.
“The Next Biggest Thing Since Weather Radar” ~ US National Weather Service
Upwards of $30 billion is lost each year on weather-related delays in the transportation sector. Flights are cancelled and delayed, train schedules are affected, shipping and receiving fails to keep up with promised timetables. With more accurate weather forecasting, these losses and inconveniences can be largely avoided. While current meteorological models may be state-of-the-art, weather radar is a technology little-changed since World War II. While radiosondes (weather balloons) augment radar by collecting data in the upper atmosphere such as barometric pressure and temperature trends, they are expensive and environmentally unfriendly (80% are never recovered after falling to Earth). Bennett Aerospace intends to make a major impact by drastically reducing—if not eliminating—radiosonde launches and by greatly augmenting weather radar.
Bennett Aerospace has teamed with Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) to develop a water vapor light detection and ranging (lidar) system, termed the WaV-Pro™ System. Lidar, sometimes known as laser radar, transmits eye-safe laser pulses into the atmosphere and then detects the scattered and reflected light in order to measure linear distances and to determine characteristics of the atmosphere itself. The WaV-Pro™ System will quantify the water vapor content in the air, a key ingredient that determines if we will experience rain and thunderstorms or just a cloudy but dry afternoon.
The National Weather Service has called WaV-Pro™ “The Next Biggest Thing Since Weather Radar.” It will fill the critical missing gap to enable highly accurate, real-time weather prediction and future climate modeling. Accurately foretelling the weather will save billions of dollars and days of time effectively lost to unforeseen weather-related delays affecting commuters, airlines, shipping and transportation. The Department of Defense stands to benefit through more effective tactical planning; NASA stands to benefit through more decisive space launch weather windows and the ability to calibrate weather satellite on orbit with ground-truth sensor; and oceanic shipping stands to benefit through more efficient routing around oncoming storm systems.
Infectious Disease Sensing
Infectious disease has, and will be for the foreseeable future, a major challenge for humanity. We believe that it is a moral imperative to develop solutions to detecting and preventing infectious disease. Bennett Aerospace is focused on applying technologies across disciplines to meet these challenges head on.
In detection, our current focus is on developing inexpensive, easy-to-use sensing technology to detect disease in humans based on explosives detection technology. Our current research is on TB detection in humans simply by breathing into a tube. The same technology also has strong potential for kidney disease and malaria detection.
Bennett Aerospace personnel have extensive experience and expertise in the design of mechanical parts and the ability to create design packages that are machine‐shop ready.
RF Communication Systems
The ubiquity of data and mobile communications devices (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, etc.) is putting tremendous pressure on the bandwidth available on the RF spectrum. There is also increasing pressure for energy savings so that mobile RF devices can work longer on a given battery charge and conserve resources (power and fuel) for land- and ship-based systems.
Bennett Aerospace is at the forefront of RF communications technology development. This research includes the hardware (physical layer) focusing on intelligent processors, tunable filters, adaptive power amplifiers, and intelligent antenna designs. It also includes the virtual layer for data and protocol management. Additionally, Bennett Aerospace has the ability to fully characterize, test, and assess the performance of new radio systems and antenna designs―with near and far field analysis.
Bennett Aerospace’s projects include those that have the ability to revolutionize the use of spectrum and power consumption in new military RF communication systems. We also are creating new test platforms for antenna design with data collection and assessment far beyond anything that has been attempted to date anywhere in the world.
As our data systems are increasingly intertwined with one another, and those systems are controlling more and more of the infrastructure that enables the modern way of life, the protection of our data and computing systems in critically important. This protection starts with individual users sitting at computers to network management to defense and active monitoring of intrusion by criminals or adversarial nation-states. This protection also includes physical security of assets and infrastructure.
Bennett Aerospace can conduct Cyber Security Operations throughout the spectrum of protection required from desktop maintenance and compliance monitoring to White Hat network intrusion assessment and monitoring. Bennett Aerospace has extensive IT certifications.
At the first level, Bennett Aerospace can ensure desktop compliance monitoring on such critical elements as ensuring that all virus, spyware and adware is removed, individual machine firewalls are configured, internet connections and wireless links are secure, etc.
At the work group and unit level, Bennett Aerospace can ensure that grants or rights and privileges of access are managed for a balance of security and workability. We can also create, monitor, and manage remote desktop access so that companies only need thin clients at any given location.
And finally, for optimum security, at the network level, which includes Windows Server 2000 and 2003 administration, Bennett Aerospace can actively monitor for adversary intrusion including monitoring for and detecting unusual patterns of behavior. This includes network management, remote data backup, and virtual network creation and management. Finally, we have the ability to conduct White Hat network penetration exercises so that holes can be repaired.
Health & Medical Devices
By leveraging our extensive core expertise in medicine, infectious diseases, and systems engineering, we are able to design and implement Health & Medical technology that enhances the health, safety, performance, and operational readiness our nation’s Warfighters, First Responders, and Medical Personnel.
Health & Medicine is an ever-expanding technical area that encompasses many of the expertise areas at Bennett Aerospace:
Infectious Disease detection and remediation
Biomedical Effects of directed energy and radiation
Serious Games for training and preparedness
Chemical and Biological sensor engineering
Human Factors analysis and Human Research protocol
There is a deep chasm between the analog world of yesterday and the digital world of today. Without suitable, innovative and game-changing technology, that gap will only widen. Medical personnel in both military and civilian service are better equipped than the previous generation and expect to learn and operate in a digital world. To this end, Bennett Aerospace has focused on creating multiplayer, three-dimensional (3D) Serious Medical Games as critical-thinking skills trainers.
Our Medical Games will significantly enhance future medical training of all medical personnel. They will serve as realistic platforms for learning and will enable individuals to manage difficult medical cases prior to physical patient care. Our approach uses advances in game technology create cognitive training games that will enhance the decision making, communication, and critical and clinical thinking skills that are applicable to all fields of medical training.
The field of robotics has evolved dramatically over the last 40 years. The general population still views robotics in the classical sense of roboticists who focus on the design of robotics hardware with gears, motors, and tracks. From our corporate view, the challenges to this classical approach to robots have been solved. The hardware needed for most robotic solutions is available ‘off the shelf’, and the design of these classical robots is really simply an engineering exercise.
Bennett Aerospace focuses on the new challenges facing robotics developers―namely a) mechanical designs that allow for adaptation to non-standard physical environments (e.g., rough terrain, oddly shaped confines, etc.); and b) autonomy and logical robotic reasoning for improved decision making.
Bennett Aerospace has active projects in both of these areas, and we are helping bring to fruition a new class of robotic concepts.
MULTI-TERRAIN ROBOT TRACKS INFRARED LIGHT
Robotic technologies are advancing quickly and efficiently for both military and consumer use. One focus for near-future robots is to be less dependent on turn-by-turn guidance from a human controller. Bennett Aerospace envisions a robotic future in which devices can be programmed to move based on various cues such as noise or light. With such a capability, robots could play “follow-the-leader” by tracking an LED attached to an operator’s belt or seek out victims in a house fire by tracking the human voice. Such performance will be even more useful if the robot can move over various terrain including concrete, sand, stairs, and rocks.
Bennett Aerospace has designed, built, and tested a robot system that could pave the way for these scenarios and capabilities. Housed in a plastic sphere for multi-terrain movement, this robot searches for infrared (IR) light and then moves (rolls) towards it. Due to its spherical shape, it can overcome obstacles that a normal robot cannot. Our development pathway is to produce a unit that can be thrown yet still operate effectively (such as into an earthquake-ravaged building to seek out survivors or into an enemy compound to gather reconnaissance).
Photonics spans an immense range of engineering and physics, encompassing both the fundamentals and applications of light. Many of our modern day devices rely on Photonics for their operation: Smartphone screens (OLED displays), commercial and residential lighting (white LEDs), “Fiber to the Home” (fiber optics), and Blu-ray players (laser diodes).
We believe many of the devices of the future will require Photonic-based elements for operation including supercomputing, standoff detection, advanced IR imaging, and augmented reality. As such, Bennett Aerospace is actively solving several challenges using lasers, optics, and electronics.
Bennett Aerospace has expertise in electro‐optical and physical optical system design using Class III and IV gas, semiconductor, fiber, and solid state lasers, as well as with imaging, illumination, and optical components across a broad spectrum of ultraviolet (UV), visible, and infrared (IR) wavelengths. Our personnel have also developed numerous electronic components utilizing liquid crystals and organic materials including liquid crystal display pixels, organic light emitting diodes, organic photovoltaics, and organic thin film transistors. Furthermore, our past performance boasts several Photonic-centric efforts including Tunable Lasers and Novel Fiber Delivery Systems for Ultra-short Pulse Lasers.
Millions of dollars have been invested in nanotechnology over the past decade by the governments and industries around the world. The advances made in research laboratories are ready to be applied to practical real world applications. Bennett Aerospace is at the forefront at bringing research from laboratories to the applied space.
Applications of nanomaterials for protective body armor and higher strength structures, plasma for materials processing for longer life structures for aircraft and ships, additive manufacturing for rapid manufacturing of end-use products, and nanomaterials for piezoelectric power generation.
Bennett Aerospace personnel have extensive experience and expertise in the design of mechanical parts and the ability to create design packages that are machine‐shop ready.
Cyber, Intel & Communications
Bennett Aerospace is addressing the challenges of intelligence, cyber and communication systems on two fronts: We pursue innovative solutions for managing and processing the vast amount of data that individuals deal with daily; and we work to develop hardware for the dissemination, processing and presentation of information data.
We place special emphasis on increasing bandwidth of communications because of the strong challenges to transmitting the input from a myriad of sensors through to an end-user, and transmitting an exponential increase of data flow (to keep up with the exponential increase in amount of data generated by society). Transmission of this data has strained resources, especially within the military. We are addressing these challenges from hardware standpoint, with our augmented reality work and cryogentic applications for communication hardware; innovative antenna design, such as antenna-integrated garments and beamforming of satellite-based communications; and data processing software for the intelligence analyst.
Bennett Aerospace has the expertise to design radio frequency (RF) communication systems from scratch, including radio systems and antennas. We have hands‐on experience in designing and simulating efficient multi‐band antennas for wireless handsets, including the responsibilities for delivering the full antenna package—from concept design and analysis to prototyping to hardware tests to troubleshooting—for main, multi‐band antennas, as well as Bluetooth antennas and GPS antennas of cellular phones. Bennett Aerospace personnel also have extensive experience in numerical methods, hardware and software aspects in computational electromagnetics and bioelectromagnetics.
Chemical / Biological
Bennett Aerospace is focused on creating radical change in infectious disease detection, injury recovery, geriatric care, medical training, medical systems, and detection of hazardous chemicals and biological agents. We feel that addressing the challenges of the chem/ bio arena will have a direct positive impact on the world, our local communities and the environment.
Bennett Aerospace is actively developing technology in the following application spaces: earlier detection of infectious diseases; solutions for increasing the level of comfort and care for our aging population in assisted living and retirement communities; enhanced medical training simulations and serious games; robotic hazmat cleaning; detection of hazardous materials in air and water for human safety; development of lightweight body armor using novel chemical processes; and cellular manipulation within microfluidics for faster tissue growth.
For this we bring to bear our extensive expertise in biomedical engineering, robotic system design and implementation, plasma science, and microfluidics. Bennett Aerospace personnel have successfully designed chem/ bio systems from the ground up and bring to bear broad backgrounds in medicine, mechanical engineering, and physics. With the ability to rapidly move from paper design to prototype system, Bennett Aerospace is uniquely suited to meet the needs of both military and commercial customers.