Schematic of ARL’s micro-mirror optical tracking and ranging system showing: (1) device submount, (2) optical receiver, (3) optical transmitter, (4) transmitting beam shaping optics, (5) beam scanning and transmitting system, (6) transmitting and scanning beam, (7) detector focusing optics, (8) reflected beam

Micro-Mirror Optical Tracking and Ranging System

The US Army seeks a partner to license and commercialize an advanced laser-based system for precision tracking and ranging of fast-moving objects at distances from tens of meters to several kilometers.

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Technology Description

Background & Technology:

The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, MD, has conceived and patented an innovative optical sensing and tracking system for detecting, tracking, and determining object distance and direction in a wide full solid angle (160o x 160o) with an extremely high spatial resolution (0.5o). A key design feature is the laser beam steering system, comprised of micro-mirrors that spin and tilt synchronously to steer the beam across a predetermined scanning angle and interval in a conically shaped scan pattern. When the laser beam waveform reflects off an object in the scan pattern, it is detected by an optical receiver. An electronic control and operating system then process the signal to yield the precise distance and position of the object. Further, the scan rate (nominally 512 kHz) is such that any reflected signal is detected without interference from other reflected signals at different locations within the scan pattern.

In addition to exceptional sensitivity, the Army’s device is designed to be physically compact, lightweight, and inexpensive to manufacture and maintain. It can be deployed to various aerial and ground mobile platforms for applications such as self-defense and protection. Operating parameters such as laser beam power and scan rate are intended to be scalable and tunable to meet user requirements.


  • First-available system for optically tracking fast-moving objects from up close (tens of meters) to several kilometers in distance
  • Superior performance over conventional radar or long-range optical detection systems
  • Low-risk development as components of the system have been developed and tested by ARL
  • Diverse markets such as military, automotive, shipping, aerospace

The Opportunity:

  • Issued US Patent 7,576,837 is available for license
  • Potential for collaboration with ARL inventor team and laboratory

Supplemental Technical Information:

For more information, contact:
Austin Leach, PhD | | (406) 994-7707

Licensing Instructions:

In order to apply for license to federally owned technologies, regulations require that specific information be provided regarding your company and plans for commercialization. This information will be incorporated in a license agreement which will be provided for your review prior to signature. All provided information will be considered proprietary and held confidential.

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