DARPA Developing TIMU Navigation Chips

There are few things that match the level of dread generated by hearing the words "GPS Signal Lost" from our navigation devices. While this will never be more than an inconvenience for the average user, it has the potential to be disastrous for military branches that are increasingly dependent on precision operations. In light of this, a team of DARPA researchers at the University of Michigan have developed the TIMU (timing and inertial measurement unit) that reportedly can provide navigation assistance if "GPS satellites suddenly became unavailable due to malfunction, enemy action or simple interference, such as driving into a tunnel."

The TIMU combines a six-axis IMU (three gyroscopes and three accelerometers) and a highly accurate master clock in a single chip consisting of six microfabricated layers and integrates devices, materials and designs from DARPA's Micro-PNT program. The resulting device measures just 10 cubic millimeters and is considered robust enough for use in "personnel tracking, handheld navigation, small diameter munitions and airborne platforms."

Given that many of the military's technical breakthroughs have made their way into consumer products, it may not be very long before we start to see smartphones and other navigation devices equipped with TIMUs or similar technologies.

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  • gamerk316
    Back to the good old IMU. Simpler = Better.
  • JasCola
    I'm glad that when my screen goes out that I can still navigate. Does it allow for voice nav then? ;) The caption for the article should say GPS not GPU.
  • g00fysmiley
    very cool tech, i am sure saftey measures liek this are already existing in self driving cars or at least systems to navigate traffic and operate, but to do it in a chip that size is very impressive