Engineers at Cardiff University collaborated with Microsemi, a California company, on a revolutionary system that can spot body armor damage. A-Ultra is the device that won the Business Innovation prize at the Innovation & Impact Awards given by Cardiff University. This hand-held system utilizes ultrasound to locate any damage that may have been done to personal protective gear.
The UK periodically ships about five million of its military armor units across the world to be X-rayed for damage. These inspections cost the government a huge amount of money. With the A-Ultra system, the armed forces’ protective equipment can now be inspected locally. This not only increases the safety of military members, but also saves the Ministry of Defense a lot of money.
The technology involves two transducers, one sending ultrasonic waves across the surface of the armor and the other receiving them. The system will indicate whether the body armor “passes” or “fails” the test. The results are comparable to the results shown when existing testing methods are used in a lab.
Dr. Rhys Pullin of Cardiff’s School of Engineering said, “All of us on the team are thrilled to receive this year’s Business Innovation Award. Our collaboration with Microsemi has greatly benefitted both the University and the School. There are so many more applications for this unique technology, which are sure to inspire even more collaborations.
“The success of this collaboration has inspired a joint £1m Innovate UK application filing with Microsemi’s Caldicot base, Shape Machining and Aston Martin Lagonda. We have already developed a patent, lined up an incredible researcher in Dr. Ryan Marks and recruited four staff members.”
Martin McHugh, Microsemi’s Head of Business & Technology Development, said, “We are honored to have been given this award. The A-Ultra project has benefitted us in many ways. We are building upon its innovative embedded components and developing new products. This has the potential of creating many new jobs and other opportunities for recent engineering graduates.”
The MoD will submit a report on A-Ultra to everyone bidding for a contract to develop the VIRTUS integrated body armor system. This is when the full range of A-Ultra’s benefits are likely to be recognized.