UK government tests quantum-inertial navigation technology

May 20, 2024  - By
Photo: Infleqtion

Photo: Infleqtion

The UK has successfully tested quantum-based navigation systems in flight. The commercial trial was led by Infleqtion, a quantum technology company, and is designed to improve resilience against GPS jamming and spoofing.

Although GPS jamming typically does not affect an aircraft’s flight path, quantum-based positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) systems aim to provide accurate and resilient navigation, complementing existing satellite systems and offering uninterrupted operations for global air traffic.

Infleqtion, in collaboration with aerospace companies BAE Systems and QinetiQ, conducted the trials at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Science Minister Andrew Griffith participated in the final test flight on May 9. The project has received nearly £8 million in government funding as part of the National Quantum Strategy, which seeks to establish the UK as a leader in quantum technology.

The test flights included two key quantum technologies: the compact Tiqker optical atomic clock and an ultra-cold-atom-based quantum system, both tested aboard QinetiQ’s RJ100 Airborne Technology Demonstrator. These technologies are part of developing a quantum inertial navigation system (Q-INS), which aims to provide precise and resilient navigation independent of traditional GNSS.

The successful flight trials are a step towards deploying quantum navigation systems on aircraft by 2030 as part of the UK’s National Quantum Strategy. The demonstrated potential of quantum technology in enhancing navigation security is an important development for future aerospace applications.