(UBirmingham) The UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, led by the University of Birmingham, has awarded funding for research to improve the precision of maritime navigation. The project, funded by £600,000 from the Hub’s Partnership Resource Fund (PRF), is being led by Professor Tom Pike at Imperial College London and Dr Simon Calcutt at the University of Oxford.
It aims to develop the missing component to transform an existing gravity gradiometer developed by Hub scientists into a hybrid instrument that will extend the Hub’s map-matching navigation technology to applications in maritime environments. This will allow navigation that will not only rely on satellite signals, but will measure the localised gravity field produced by underground conditions which can be matched to gravity maps to establish a vessel’s precise location.
The team will exploit gravity gradiometer technology developed by Quantum Technology Hub academics, to ensure its effectiveness on a moving platform. Hub academics are already working closely with industry partners, such as Network Rail and the Lighthouse Authority, to implement map matching navigation, and this project aims to add electronics that are able to compensate for the dynamics of the deployment platform to offer higher frequency capabilities required for resilient maritime navigation.
Creating an instrument which can detect a gravity signal from a mobile deployment is an incredible challenge. Gravity sensors require extreme sensitivity to be able to detect signals, and a typical maritime, or airborne deployment experiences acceleration of 0.1g or more. The instrument aims to uniquely detect signals at the nano-g level.

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