- November 14, 2018, 4:19 pm
Researchers at Imperial College London in collaboration with scientists at quantum technology company M Squared have developed a transportable, standalone quantum accelerometer that could be used in place of traditional global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).
Most navigation today relies on a global navigation satellite system (GNSS), such as GPS, which sends and receives signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. The quantum accelerometer is a self-contained system that does not rely on any external signals.
An accelerometer is an instrument that measures how an object’s acceleration changes over time. This data can be used to determine a vehicle’s position for navigation purposes. The problem is that we need an extremely precise and reliable accelerometer to pull this off. Traditional accelerometers simply aren’t accurate enough and over time, their error rate compounds, making them useless for navigation without an external reference.
The quantum accelerometer uses powerful lasers to supercool atoms. When extremely chilly, the atoms exhibit “quantum” properties. As they fall, their acceleration can be measured using an “optical ruler” that is extremely accurate, thus providing navigation data without relying on external signals.
DEMERITS OF GPS
- GPS chip is power hungry which drains battery in 8 to 12 hours. This requires either battery replacement or recharge.
- GPS signal does not pierce through the solid walls or structures. Moreover it is affected by large buildings or structures. Due to this, user will not be able to utilize GPS service in indoors or under water or in dense tree regions or in underground stores or places etc.
- GPS accuracy depends on sufficient received signal quality. GPS signal gets affected due to multipath, atmosphere (i.e. ionosphere), electromagnetic interference etc. This leads to error of about 5 to 10 meters in GPS signal.
- It is better not to rely completely on GPS system. Backup travel maps with directions will help in the event of GPS system failure.
ADVANTAGES OF QUANTUM ACCELEROMETER OVER GPS
- It allows highly accurate navigation without the need for satellites.
- It overcomes many of the issues of traditional GPS systems, such as blockages from tall buildings or signal jamming.
- For critical missions, any significant downtime could be disastrous.But quantum accelerometer will solve such hindrance.
- The quantum accelerometer relies on the precision and accuracy made possible by measuring properties of super-cool atoms, which means any loss in accuracy is "immeasurably small".