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High-BIAS2 project to accelerate quantum sensing

05 May 2021

Project advances cold atom quantum gyroscope; new test flight partner completes the High-BIAS2 supply chain

The UK’s High-BIAS2 (High Bandwidth Inertial Atom Source) project, running through October 2023, has announced several “milestones that will move the industry closer to safer skies with more precise inflight navigation systems,” say the project organizers.

The research and development project has advanced its development of a cold atom-based Quantum Positioning System, which enables vehicle navigation without a Global Positioning System (GPS) or a Global Navigation Satellite System signal.

Reducing the reliance on GPS and GNSS technologies is critical for scenarios where signals from these systems are not available, such as underwater or in space, or when they suffer disruptions due to technical issues, cyber attacks, and atmospheric or reflection effects.

BAE Systems test aircraft

High-BIAS2 demonstrates the rapid commercialization of quantum technologies for real world applications, say the partners. In recent months, High-BIAS2 has demonstrated significant momentum as it heads towards an inflight demonstration on a BAE Systems test aircraft. The project is backed by a range of UK quantum sector end-users and supply chain partners.

Technology, application and commercialization development partners include:

  • ColdQuanta – gyroscope based on ColdQuanta's Cold Atom Quantum Technology
  • Fraunhofer UK – low size, weight and power (SWaP) optical source modules
  • Alter Technology – compact laser modules
  • Caledonian Photonics – high power compact lasers
  • RedWave Labs – drivers, controllers and sequencing
  • BAE Systems – inflight platform demonstration
  • PA Consulting – technology road-mapping and supply chain analysis

ColdQuanta's Cold Atom Quantum Technology serves as the foundation for the project’s gyroscope and Quantum Positioning System. The company's quantum sensor uses tightly confined ultra-cold atoms, which are cooled to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero and organized in a novel configuration.

‘Practical use cases for quantum sensors’

“High-BIAS2 is a huge step forward in developing practical use cases for quantum sensors and will showcase the real power of quantum in action,” commented Dan Caruso, CEO and executive chairman of ColdQuanta.

“Inertial navigation systems enhanced by ColdQuanta's Cold Atom Quantum Technology hold the promise of navigation in the absence of GPS and GNSS. This technological breakthrough benefits a wide range of billion dollar industries including aerospace, autonomous vehicles, marine transportation, oil and gas excavation and more.”

The project will culminate with inflight trials via BAE Systems’ test aircraft to validate the gyroscope's use for aerospace applications. The airborne technology demonstrator will consist of a quantum gyroscope sensor and control system, reference gyroscope and commercial navigator system.

”Gyro technology is a key aspect of navigation for airborne platforms, improved performance whilst still being compatible with the aerospace environment is something that BAE Systems sees as important in aiding navigation when GNSS signals aren’t available,” said Julia Sutcliffe, Air Chief Technologist, BAE Systems.

“We can see exciting applications across our defence, security and commercial businesses including land, sea and air environments for the quantum devices being developed in the High-BIAS2 project.”

Simon Andrews, Executive Director, Fraunhofer UK Research, said, “Successful collaborations require the right partners with complementary skills and shared ambition. This project exemplifies that idea with its common goal with a rounded consortium from research, components through to field validation. Fraunhofer CAP is the ideal partner to bring low-SWaP laser and optics expertise to this project.”

Stephen Duffy, CEO of Alter Technology UK, added, “Cold atom based inertial navigation systems rely on reduced SWAP-C laser modules as a key enabling technology to make them a commercial reality. Our diode laser based narrow linewidth technology combines world-leading laser design with state-of-art precision, and robotic manufacturing technologies.”

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