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Sensors and Instrumentation

Tao Systems develops real-time sensor systems measuring several different variables including heat transfer, pressure, and strain. We are experienced in developing and testing new sensors, and in improving the performance of existing sensors.

Our primary focus was in maturing sensors that work only in water tunnels or controlled environments to sensors that are robust enough for underwater operation. The difficuAmerica's Cup Keellty in moving from the laboratory to seawater are the numerous environmental variables in water that adversely affect and consequently limit the signal. For example, sensors exposed to water must be coated (water-proof and biofouling protection) in order to operate. If there is too much coating, then there is very little signal compared to the noise.

Tao Systems has developed several fundamental electronic innovations that significantly improve the signal and reduce the impact of noise. Tao Systems sensors are used underwater with a minimal loss of signal integrity. This innovation allows us to explore sensor solutions that were previously unfeasible using conventional technology.

New Sensor Development

Underwater Shear Stress Sensor Matrix Tested at the US Navy Large Cavitation Channel (LCC)Over the years, Tao Systems has developed several new sensors for marine applications for various clients. One example is the real-time shear stress sensor developed for US Navy. Conventional shear stress sensors, e.g. Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV), infer the shear stress at only one point from the movement of manually introduced seeded particles. We went from feasibility studies to research design to prototyping to successful underwater testing of an array of shear stress sensors. The shear stress sensors on the circular insert were successfully tested in the world's largest water tunnel, Large Cavitation Channel (LCC), at several millions Reynolds number. The end result is a sensor that gives shear stress not only for a single point, but also for an array or matrix of points. This sensor solution far surpassed the specifications. The shear stress sensors can also be used in real-time not only in controlled water tunnel facilities but in actual ocean environments.

Another example is the underwater flow vector probe. There are no real-time underwater sensors for measuring the speed and direction of an underwater vehicle relative to the underwater freestream. Tao Systems found a feasible solution, performed theoretical and experimental studies, created a prototype, and conducted a successful underwater test of the sensor system for our client.

There are several other examples of new underwater sensor developments, a few of which are listed below:

  • underwater angle of attack and sideslip sensor
  • underwater flow separation sensor

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Sensor Advancement

Tao Systems has significant experience in improving the performance of existing sensors. Through innovative electrical engineering, Tao Systems takes existing sensors and significantly enhances the signal characteristics while reducing the noise and eliminating the complexities of conventional sensor electronics.

One example is the HW-CVA and HF-CVA instrumentation developed for NASA for heat transfer measurements. Existing instrumentation have signal, noise, bandwidth and temperature issues that substantially limit its performance and its use to primarily laboratory settings. By redesigning the circuit, Tao Systems provides the client with a solution that has much higher sensitivity and larger bandwidth while significantly reducing the impact of issues that plague conventional systems.

Another example is developing a strain gage system that has high sensitivity and yet is not limited by cable type and length and electromagnetic interference (EMI). Again, Tao Systems redesigned the circuit according to these requirements with at least an order of magnitude increase in sensitivity and created a replacement that can be used in place of the conventional system.

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