During the second half of last year, the Office of Scientific Research under the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) conducted a massive research grant competition. During which, a total of seventeen quantum research science grants were awarded under the Quantum U Tech Accelerator program.
According to Geospatial World, the trade magazine for the geospatial industry, two of the grants were focused on utilizing quantum computing to tackle challenges in GPS resistance during navigation. Those grants were award to Gurudev Dutt at the University of Pittsburgh (United States) in Memory-Enhanced Quantum Sensing for GPS-denied Navigation, and John Close at the Australian National University (Australia), in Quantum sensors for GPS-denied navigation. Those awards were presented during a virtual pitch competition that was held during the Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator.
According to the U.S. Air Force, more than 1,000 top-tier researchers, members of industry, higher education leaders and members of the public from around the world, virtually attended the first-of-its-kind event.
“Communication networked computing will take longer to develop and deliver capabilities to the field. For timing and sensing, where we see an impact coming is being able to go beyond GPS—so in GPS-denied and degraded environments, how you can bring precision navigation and timing technologies using quantum enhancements to the field,” explained Michael Hayduk, deputy director of the ARFL’s Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y. to Geospatial World.
“For example, bringing together improved clocks with increased stability, less drift and smaller volume that require less updates than you would have in clocks of today,” Hayduk added. “Then in the sensing piece, how you can do that navigation piece and going after GPS-like accuracy for what today ends up being much less than an hour to longer time frames, hours and many hours in what you might need and require. The different types of sensors that we’re looking at to be able to take advantage of those properties include inertial sensors, magneto meters, gravitational sensors, and electric field sensors.”
The AFRL’s Information Directorate has gone all in on spearheading its international alliance of principal investigators across government, academia and industry with a goal to accelerate quantum enabling technologies. Nearly 250 teams from twenty two countries submitted proposals to take part in the Information Directorate’s pitch competition. Of those, the Air Force reported that thirty-six teams were selected to pitch their potentially game-changing concepts related to quantum timing, sensing, information processing/computing and communications/networking at the event to an elite panel of judges.
The Air Force added that its Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator’ was the kick-off event for the Innovare Advancement Center, the new open innovation campus located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, N.Y.
“The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate welcomes you to the Innovare community, our launch pad for creative collisions among the international research community,” said Col. Timothy Lawrence, director of AFRL’s Information Directorate, during the opening ceremony. “The Air Force Research Laboratory launched the ‘1 Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator’ in partnership with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Office of Naval Research, because we are focused, and we are motivated, and we know you are too, to accelerate the achievement of quantum breakthroughs that can elevate our game—in the air, on the land, at sea, in space and cyberspace.”
The United States is not alone in working to develop and deploy quantum technology. While there will be no shortage of commercial applications for the advanced cryptographic mechanisms that a quantum Internet could deploy, a concern is that near-peer adversaries such as China are already working to develop quantum radar, which could be used to track and kill submerged submarines.
Yet, it could still be some time before any of this technology in theory becomes a reality. At issue remains the hardware to actually create this quantum future, and whether such platforms could actually be built. However, it is clear that if the machines can be built, the race for quantum devices—and weapons—is one the United States can’t afford to lose!
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.