Raytheon Company has been awarded $13.4 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the Low Cost Thermal Imaging Manufacturing (LCTI-M) program. The goal of LCTI-M is to develop a wafer scale manufacturing process that will make thermal imagers affordable and accessible to every warfighter.
Under the three-year contract, Raytheon Vision Systems (RVS) will develop wafer scale manufacturing processes to reduce the size, weight, power and cost of thermal cameras so that they can be integrated into PDAs or cell phones. Wider availability would enhance situational awareness and information sharing among dismounted soldiers and individual intelligence personnel, where a common view of the battlefield is critical.
Currently thermal imagers are bulky (a few kilograms and cost about $1000 to several thousand dollars each. They also suck up a lot of power which means heavier batteries are needed.