BAe in Japan link

BAe in Japan link
British Aerospace division in joint venture with Sumitomo Precision Products to make gyroscopes; designed in Plymouth and made in Japan; Lucas Varity deal already won. Richard Ball British Aerospace Systems & Equipment has set up a joint venture to develop and manufacture micromachined silicon gyroscopes and accelerometers with Sumitomo Precision Products. Called Silicon Sensing Systems, the new company will undertake design and development in Plymouth, while manufacturing will be provided by Sumitomo in Japan. A contract has already been won from Lucas Varity for 1.5 million gyroscopes. These will be used as yaw rate sensors in vehicle braking systems. In the short term, automotive applications are expected to be the major market for the sensors. “The potential is colossal,” said Dave Rowe, general manager of the joint venture. “They can be used as roll over sensors. Future generations of cars will have airbags in the roof.” Other developments, such as adaptive cruise control, will also need a gyro. “The small radar on the front of the car needs to change where it’s pointing as the car goes round a corner,” said Rowe. The gyro uses a vibrating silicon ring structure which exploits the Coriolis effect. When the vibrating ring is rotated, the standing wave in the rings lags behind the turn, causing secondary vibrations. The secondary vibration can be measured and is proportional to the rate of the turn. Sumitomo has started a pilot production line in Japan, which is now manufacturing and selling 3,000 silicon gyros a month. This will ramp to a million units a year – enough to fulfill the Lucas order. Further plants will follow. “We can set up daughter plants anywhere,” said Rowe. These need a cleanroom, but cost tens of millions of dollars, unlike semiconductor fabs which cost billions.


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