UQ (University of Queensland) researchers are working alongside the Australian Defence Force (ADF), NASA, Orica Ltd and Brisbane’s Skyborne Technologies to develop the next-generation sensors. This comes as part of a $6.6 million Australian initiative to develop quantum technologies for use in defense applications.

UQ scientist, Warwick Bowen, said the research could jettison Australia as a leading pioneer of ultra-precise sensors for unmanned and autonomous vehicles. “This is an exciting new direction, applying quantum physics to major challenges in modern technology,” he said. Quantum sensors would greatly enhance performance. Moreover, they could transform navigation and positioning capabilities in unmanned vehicles.

“These sensors will be so precise that the laws of quantum physics are required to understand how they function and they’ll be built from both nano-engineered mechanical devices fabricated on a silicon chip, and atomic gases cooled until they behave as matter waves” he added.

UQ has been assigned two projects. Their major focus is developing quantum accelerometers, gyroscopes, sonar, and magnetometers, with total funding of $1.7 million. If created, the ultra-precise sensors could prove to be instrumental in operating a new and advanced array of unmanned vehicles used for defense purposes. In fact, this technology which is also known as the ‘quantum compass’ might someday replace the conventional GPS(Global Positioning System).