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US Air Force pursues quantum research to develop GPS jamming resistance


The Office of Scientific Research under the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) conducted a massive research grant competition during the latter half of 2020, known as the Quantum U Tech Accelerator grant. A total of 17 quantum research science grants have now been awarded, with two of the grants focused on using quantum computing to tackle challenges in GPS resistance during navigation.

The two GPS-related grants have been awarded 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.

The awards were presented at the end of a three-day virtual pitch competition held during the Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator. Approximately 52% of the awards went to researchers based in the US, 29% to Australia, and the remaining to those in Switzerland. Awardees are now eligible to apply for a one-year seedling grant of approximately $75,000 each.

The Million Dollar International Quantum U Tech Accelerator event was hosted virtually at the Innovare Advancement Center at Rome, New York. The event was funded by AFRL’s Information Directorate, AFOSR, the Office of Naval Research, the Griffiss Institute, New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation, and SUNY Research Foundation. The event was a multi-layered collaborative effort with the common goal of accelerating quantum innovation for the U.S. military and coalition partners.

Michael Hayduk, deputy director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y., said, “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. So, 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. 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.”

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