The US Army recently awarded MicroStrain, Inc. a Phase I SBIR contract to develop an active radio frequency identification embedded usage tracking system for helicopter rotating components.

The objective of the SBIR is to develop a comprehensive and networked health management capability that can be embedded directly into rotorcraft components.The project will support the development and demonstration of tiny, wireless energy harvesting radio frequency identification (EH-RFID™) nodes that provide part identification, performance monitoring, on-board storage of component usage history, and remaining useful life.

Energy harvesting combined with advanced wireless sensors represents a breakthrough technology that enables truly autonomous monitoring, reporting, and alerting.

The new EH-RFID™ nodes to be developed under this Army SBIR will be compatible with MicroStrain’s new wireless sensor data aggregators (WSDA™), which synch wireless sensor networks and provide a remote portal to a secure server.

WSDA™ devices feature an open architecture interface for integration with existing health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS), and stand-alone operation modes for data collection on aircraft without HUMS.

WSDAs™ can also be programmed to send e-mail and SMS text message alerts if a potentially damaging event is detected.

“One of the unique aspects of this Phase I SBIR is that the EH-RFID™ sensor nodes consume very little energy, facilitating continuous operation using highly miniaturized energy harvesters. Our wireless, battery free RFIDs will break down the barriers to deploying widely distributed wireless sensor networks. Once embedded, these tiny sensors will reduce maintenance costs, increase mission readiness, and enhance safety”, said Steve Arms, President of MicroStrain.

MicroStrain’s sensing systems are used in a wide variety of applications, including testing new designs, controlling critical processes, navigating unmanned vehicles, and monitoring the health of structures and machines.