Global positioning systems (GPS) are in the crosshairs for quantum computing investment from the U.S. Air Force, breaking with broader investments globally by focusing on a narrow set of applications involving quantum devices and methods. So too are secure, low-power networks and on-device communications for quantum positioning. 

There has been a fair bit of funding tossed around to support quantum initiatives from governments around the world. Often, these are focused on efforts to improve the function and practicality of future quantum computers and associated software. In the U.S. there is a more directed investment via a research grant competition supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

What the seventeen winners of the grant share in common shows where the AFRL might be seeing some of the first practical applications in quantum computing: in GPS—an area where we have not seen a lot of specific work to date outside of quantum work in atomic and lattice clocks. Over half of the seventeen research selections have direct implications for using quantum methods for navigation in areas where GPS cannot be used. Nearly all of the remaining selected research could support low-power quantum device communications and quantum sensors.

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