TORQUE: Atom Interferometric Rotation Sensor for Quantum Enhanced Navigation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

M Squared Lasers and the University of Birmingham are aiming to collaborate in the area of atom interferometric rotation sensors, in order to establish a capability in the strategically important area of quantum-enhanced navigation hardware. The partners have a track record of commercialisation and project delivery in atom interferometry and related gravimeter devices. The proposed work will build upon the partners' collective expertise and close working relationship built up over the last few years in collaborations through Knowledge Transfer Studentships, the UK National Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology and Innovate UK projects in atom interferometry and gravimetry. Quantum-enhanced navigation systems aim to deliver ground-breaking performance levels for a variety of applications. The use of atom interferometry for rotation sensing is intended to enable a step change in capability for a key subsystem in future quantum inertial measurement units.

Planned Impact

The market for quantum-enhanced rotation sensors and the inertial navigation units that they will enable, is a varied and international one, with revenue generation possibilities at each stage of commercial and technical maturity. The early potential of quantum navigation hardware is characterised by high value application scenarios, where incremental performance above the state-of-the-art in inertial measurement units has the potential to add significant value to end users. The natural initial adoption of the technology is likely to be in the military and major mobile asset sectors, where size, weight, power and cost limitations will not be a hindrance on adoption. These sectors are not very sensitive to system cost and can tolerate maturing technologies, where the value added by the performance gains can deliver a significant competitive advantage to end users. Examples of early adopters may be naval vessel navigation and our collaborators at Rolls Royce have highlighted a route to market in the maritime sector where the use of quantum-enhanced navigation capabilities could deliver their customers an edge in next generation shipping technology. For these early adopters the business opportunity for advanced navigation systems in future unmanned vessels can be evaluated in the context of the associated costs of such vehicles. The overall sector is worth US$350-400b and employs 1m people worldwide. As much as 44% of the cost of shipping is associated with the need to carry crew (Bloomberg). A scheduled launch by R-R in 2018 sees an autonomous cargo vessel being deployed at a cost roughly three times the cost of an equivalent manned vessel. The initial capital cost of such a vessel is notably higher than current options, however, the operating cost is expected to be up to 90% lower, yielding significant savings over the typical lifetime of the vessel, allowing high initial sensor costs to be tolerated. The project will engage on technical and exploitation planning with interested potential integrators, to explore the market potential in segments beyond the initial maritime target markets.

The project is expected to realise a multitude of impacts beyond the immediate project team. The overall supply chain is partly represented within the project with subsystem development and system integration participation. R-R aim to engage with the project team as a potential future OEM partner and exploitation pathway in the maritime sector. The ultimate end-users will be those reliant upon the navigation capabilities that will ultimately be enabled by the technology. The primary use case of interest to R-R is for autonomous maritime vehicles, which could feasibly be deployed for a range of civilian and defence applications. For specialist maritime vehicles, high value unmanned shipping and any sub-surface vessels, the benefits of inertial navigation systems with a long integration lifetime will justify the initial costs of the system. This area has been flagged as a priority within UK Government, with autonomous vehicles being the subject of targeted innovation funding and a recent Science and Technology Select Committee white paper. The latter identifies the UK's leading role in defining nascent regulations for autonomous maritime vehicles.
Future implementations, optimised for overall cost and form factor will have wide applicability across the spectrum of vehicle platforms, adding value to the transport sector as a whole and building in redundancy against GNSS denial. This single point of failure presents a major risk to a significant proportion of the UK's economic activity. The widespread use of autonomous vehicles in this context will reduce overall emissions by as much as 3.4% for a given level of freight transit as tonnage can be significantly reduced in future shipping technologies.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have found parameter spaces and prospective performance for quantum technology in navigation, and used this to engage with the navigation community. We have also investigated detection schemes for atom interferometry and considered what would be required to use these in navigation relevant applications. These outcomes will contribute towards further work in the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing, where Navigation has become one of the four main focal areas.
Exploitation Route The findings related to navigation requirements for cold atom sensors have been used to inform demonstrator targets for the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing, and to form part of the hub road map of requirements towards applications. These are being disseminated to end users through the hub and via the road map, which is helping them to consider the impact of quantum technology in near and longer term applications - such as within maritime via alternative navigation and/or lower drift inertial navigation systems.

The detection schemes are now being considered for further work within the demonstrators being developed towards these applications, and are being considered towards live projects with industry for knowledge transfer and as part of the development of industry prototype quantum sensors.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

 
Description The findings in the project have contributed to the development of road maps within the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing, which are being used to engage with end users, system integrators and component suppliers. In particular, they are being used to inform companies of the potential performance of quantum sensors as components within a navigation solution and the time scales required for development. This has led to follow-on work within the hub to create demonstrators that are focused on the next steps towards these end user applications. Furthermore, the increased understanding of the navigation performance requirements has led to an industry funded project that is focused on overcoming the specific barrier of the sensor measurement rate.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Transport
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description BAE Systems visit to University on 21 March 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Gave presentation highlighting work and research carried out by the QT Hub.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited seminar and panel discussion at "Quantum Technology for Transport" held by Innovate UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The seminar was aimed at describing the activities of the quantum technology hub for sensing and metrology, with a focus on for use in transport and transport related infrastructure and upon cold atom based gravity and gravity gradiometry. This included disseminating work underway in the hub and relevant projects funded by Innovate UK/EPSRC and DSTL. This helped demonstrate the potential benefits of quantum technology in these areas, and has contributed to consortium building and agenda setting for follow-on projects/calls.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description MBDA Systems follow up visit on 23 Oct 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Follow up visit organised by Richard Fox, College Business Engagement. MBDA met with Mike Holynski, Yeshpal Singh and Max Turner. Discussed work of the QT Hub.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Network Rail visit on 4 June 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Jenny Cooke and Adam Kirkup from Network Rail met with myself, Nicole Metje, Simon Bennett and Mike Holynski. Discussed research and development of sensors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Ordance Survey visit (Jeremy Morley & Stefano) on 21 March 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Nicole Metje joined the meeting and discussed quantum gravity and civil engineering / mapping . Lab tour given.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Sachin Kinge, Toyota Europe visit on 23 Aug 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussion around sensors and navigation. Given tour of labs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Thales Alenia Space (Roger Ward & David Summers) on 9 April 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meeting participants included Simon Bennett, Mike Holynski, Raffael Nolli and Max Turner. Spoke about work / research of the QT Hub.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description West Midlands Trains visited on 23 October 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact CEO, Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde met with Max Turner and Mike Holynski. Discussed work of the QT Hub.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018