Creating the next generation of satellite navigation systems


We are continually being told that autonomous cars are around the corner, but who will help us to look around the corner?

Engineers and Physicists at the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing are developing incredibly accurate and precise quantum sensors which will help future drivers to ‘trust’ their autonomous vehicles, whether this is a car, ship, train or plane. These are technologies that instinctively understand your immediate environment, and what is around you.

The UK’s national infrastructure is built upon the use of a single navigation system, and if this fails, our critical services, such as the emergency services and electricity, cease to operate. Our research and development in quantum clocks means that the country will have an independent time source so this risk is mitigated. On an everyday practical level, it also means that future vehicle owners will have easy access to precise, stable GPS systems.

These are the next generation of satellite navigation systems.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, West Midlands Trains, Managing Director: “We’re talking to the Quantum Technology Hub about how some of the leaps forward in quantum technology might be applied to the rail industry to deal with some of its earthworks issues, stabalize embankments, prevent flooding, and that sort of thing. Network rail have a number of track measurement trains at the moment but I don’t think any of them can see what’s happening to earthworks underneath the railway and that’s the unique selling point of this technology. And why is quantum technology so important for the UK? There’s cost savings, capacity improvements, some sections of the railway are extremely busy, so it’s actually very difficult to find a slot to run the Network Rail train. So the more we can put some of this equipment on service trains, the less disruption  the less disruption caused to railways passengers and railway freight”.

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