Partnership Resource Projects

Field trial of SPAD array sensors for depth ranging in scattering media – Lockheed Martin and Heriot Watt University

Lockheed Martin has a significant interest in the development and use of single-photon avalanche detector (SPAD) arrays for visualization in degraded environments. SPAD arrays offer two significant advantages over current imaging technologies: first, they offer unprecedented single photon sensitivity, and second, they can be activated for very short periods of time such that photons are detected at precise times. These two features enable SPAD array sensors to provide range information about the object that it is imaging in very low light-level scenarios.

Heriot Watt University is developing a range of camera systems utilizing SPAD Arrays, developed by Edinburgh University and STMicroelectronics, in addition to systems using single point detectors for a variety of applications including seeing through turbid media. This feasibility study in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft is to investigate the potential use of such cameras for imaging in white out scenarios produced by helicopters.

Lockheed Martin in collaboration with Sikorsky Aircraft have invited the Experimental Quantum Optics team at Heriot Watt University to the NATO field trials at the Swiss Army’s Alpnach Air Base test facility. The aim of the field trial is to assess the potential of single-photon avalanche detector (SPAD) arrays for visualization in degraded environments. The team from HW will be bringing two different laser ranging systems to test at the facility. The field trials are intended to test single-photon counting technologies in the white-out scenario produced by a helicopter. The results of the trial will be used to inform future collaborative efforts between Lockheed Martin and Heriot Watt University to develop the SPAD array sensor technology to a high technology readiness level. The results of the field trials will be published.

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About Lockheed Martin UK

Lockheed Martin UK, headquartered in London, is the UK-based arm of Lockheed Martin Corporation, a global security and aerospace company. Lockheed Martin UK specialises in the development, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The company employs more than 3,000 people in the UK across 21 sites, working on a wide range of major programmes spanning the aerospace, defence and civil sectors. For additional information, visit our website: