The UK's first quantum accelerometer for navigation has been demonstrated by a team from Imperial College London and M Squared.
Most navigation today relies on a global navigation satellite system (GNSS), such as GPS, which sends and receives signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. The quantum accelerometer is a self-contained system that does not rely on any external signals.
This is particularly important because satellite signals can become unavailable due to blockages such as tall buildings, or can be jammed, imitated or denied – preventing accurate navigation. One day of denial of the satellite service would cost the UK £1 billion.
Now, for the first time, a UK team has demonstrated a transportable, standalone quantum accelerometer at the National Quantum Technologies Showcase, an event demonstrating the technological progress arising from the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme – a £270m UK Government investment over five years.
The device, built by Imperial College London and M Squared, was funded through the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory's Future Sensing and Situational Awareness Programme, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and Innovate UK. It represents the UK's first commercially viable quantum accelerometer, which could be used for navigation.