Nutronics, Inc. utilizes a development approach, illustrated in Figure 1, that works to maximize performance while minimizing risk and cost. Our approach focuses on minimizing the risk and cost associated with individual components or assemblies by emphasizing the use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components as much as possible. An additional tool we utilize to minimize risk and cost is extensive use of modeling and simulation to evaluate the impact of various design decisions. The development approach descriptive figure includes two color-coded types of boxes: Silver boxes represent “external” constraints (the mission is defined by the customer, system level capabilities are defined by existing or realizable system solutions, and low level data is defined by components or testing) while sand-colored boxes represent flexible development processes that give space for creative problem solving to match the customer requirements to a minimum cost and risk solution.
Our development approach starts by working closely with the customer to identify and understand the mission or problem statement and translate the related objectives into requirements and a candidate top level solution approach. We attempt to match the customer requirements with a top-level solution / system that either exists or is realizable with low to medium risk. The next step is definition of detailed requirements for the system – these will include the number of actuators, actuator spacing, temporal bandwidth (at a specified gain margin), optical requirements over a wide capture field of view and narrow operational field of view, and other requirements that are critical for high performance AO systems.
The reader will note that the requirements for an AO system in our development process fall in the “System Requirements Definition” block and are typically defined by Nutronics, Inc. through interaction and trade studies to meet mission requirements with the customer. This initial requirements definition process is optimal to provide the customer with the best understanding of how to meet the mission requirements. Our extensive modeling and simulation tools (for more information about Barchers Covariance Code – BCC – and Barchers Wave Optics Code – BWOC – please read here) provide the customer with the maximum possible information regarding the requirements development and allow the customer to proceed from this initial phase with confidence. This approach also lends itself to a multi-phased procurement process wherein the requirements development process constitutes the initial phase and the design, development, and integration/test phase follows. In some cases the customer will have already developed AO system requirements and we are always happy to work with customers in this situation, however, the given requirements definition may include even just one or two requirements that a customer does not realize have a tremendous impact on system cost or risk but may in fact be non-mission critical. We believe that by working with the customer in the initial requirements definition phase we can help minimize the customer’s cost and risk and define the optimal solution path.
High performance AO systems that operate in a reliable manner have a large number of complex and inter-related requirements. The interactions between components are often surprising and non-intuitive – and our knowledge and understanding of these interactions is captured in our system specifications. The know-how related to development of high performance AO systems has tremendous value and should not be overlooked by customers who have a mission-driven need for a high performance AO system.
Figure 1: Nutronics, Inc. Development Approach. Silver boxes represent “external” constraints (the mission is defined by the customer, system level capabilities are defined by existing or realizable system solutions, and low level data is defined by components or testing) while sand-colored boxes represent flexible development processes that give space for creative problem solving to match the customer requirements to a minimum cost and risk solution.