Wind sensing is a very mature field that uses various methods such as anemometers, acoustic, RF, and optical sensors.
BNS provides a new lidar based optical sensor capability for wind profiling by creating a compact, low-SWaP, wide-area 3D vector wind sensor suitable for integration into small packages. For some applications, having low SWaP is not important. However, the size of a mechanical beam steerer tends to limit the application of a given system. For any application requiring low-SWaP (e.g., a small UAV), mechanical systems are impractical. Small wind sensors can be incorporated into many platforms that are not possible with current architectures including ocean-based buoys, wind turbine generators, gliders, unmanned air vehicles, and commercial aircraft. Deployment in a network of ocean-based buoys will dramatically improve site surveying for optimization of wind power generation and improve weather forecasting.
Existing remote wind sensors are too bulky and power-hungry to be incorporated in many of the platforms where they are needed. Therefore, precision wide-area wind profiles are difficult to collect, which currently limits optimization of wind power generation, as well as, the precision of data for weather models.
While the lidar wind sensing field is a very mature and competitive market with many companies, BNS has the exclusive use of the Beam Deflector Polarization Grating technology for beam steering applications. Nearly all optical sensors for this application would benefit from the use of this technology. There are significant advantages in size, weight, power, and scan time. As an example, current large angle beam steering methods rely on mechanical components (e.g., gimbals, Risley prism pairs), which are constrained by inertia, bulky, power-hungry, slow, and do not provide random access within a scene. The mass and power requirements for mechanical solutions make them impractical for many platforms and limit the sensor area coverage rates. For example, an 8 inch gimbal would typically be > 20 kg and use > 300 W (excluding the control system) to achieve a full scale deflection time > 400 milliseconds. The equivalent BNS architecture would have a coarse steerer mass of ~0.4 kg using ~0.5 W to provide a full scale deflection time of < 10 milliseconds. This represents an order of magnitude improvement in weight, two orders of magnitude improvement in performance, and three orders of magnitude improvement in power. [separator top="40"]