Aukus quantum sensing partnership launched


Quantum infrastructure company Q-CTRL has announced a partnership with the Department of Defence to develop quantum sensors that will deliver quantum assured navigation capability for military platforms.

The programme will provide quantum enhanced positioning and navigation capability built on Q-CTRL’s software-ruggedised quantum sensing technology.

Quantum-enhanced navigation will deliver the ability for vehicles to position accurately over long periods when GPS is unavailable or untrustworthy, opening new frontiers for defence operations, according to the company.

Australia and its AUKUS partners are accelerating the delivery of quantum computing capabilities under the AUKUS Quantum Arrangement (AQuA).

Q-CTRL CEO and Founder Professor Michael J. Biercuk said: “From day one we knew that our specialised expertise in quantum control could unlock totally new applications of quantum technology.

“We’ve shown we can boost the performance of quantum computers and quantum sensors by orders of magnitude – entirely through software.

“Now we’re pleased to be applying these capabilities to a critical defence mission for Australia.”

A reliance on GPS for civilian and military navigation has become a critical vulnerability, with potential for limited access or outright denial of GPS signals during times of international tension.

Existing alternatives to GPS deliver limited benefits, suffering from rapidly accumulating errors that can pose tremendous risks to defence missions.

For instance, most naval vessels use backup ‘inertial navigation’ systems which sense motion to aid in positioning, but can lead to a vessel being off course by kilometres after just hours without GPS.

Q-CTRL’s technology uses the quantum physics of atoms to detect motion and small changes in the Earth’s gravitational field, leveraging these signals to enable navigation over extended periods.

Fielding quantum navigation on real defence platforms is unlocked by both proprietary hardware design and software-ruggedisation that boosts performance in the field by hundreds of times.

Interim Head of Australia’s Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator Professor Emily Hilder said: “Defence recognises that quantum sensing has the potential to fundamentally transform defence capability.

“Partnerships of this kind demonstrate our capacity to translate innovative concepts into capability, delivered by a world-class Australian deep-tech company.”

Q-CTRL announced its quantum sensing division in 2022, led by Dr Russell Anderson and focused on realising a new generation of software-defined quantum sensors.

The team has previously worked with partners including Advanced Navigation and the Australian Army to demonstrate and deliver this technology for applications including remote drone detection.

Picture: Q-CTRL

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