SandboxAQ Awarded U.S. Air Force Contract for Quantum Navigation Research

SandboxAQ Awarded U.S. Air Force Contract for Quantum Navigation Research.

SandboxAQ to test and evaluate its quantum sensor prototype aboard Air Force aircraft.

WASHINGTON and PALO ALTO, Calif – SandboxAQ, an enterprise SaaS company delivering the compound effects of AI and Quantum (AQ) technology to governments and the Global 1000, announced earlier this week (Jan 30, 2023), it was awarded a Direct-to-Phase-II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by the U.S. Air Force to research quantum navigation technologies.

Under the award, SandboxAQ will advance research and development for its quantum navigation system, which is being designed to complement the Global Positioning System (GPS) for accurate navigation in degraded, contested, or denied environments where the loss of precision GPS may negatively impact operations.

The company’s AQ-powered quantum sensor prototype will be optimized in close coordination with the U.S. Air Force customer through a variety of identified innovation areas, including live demonstrations aboard Air Force aircraft.

“The SandboxAQ team is thrilled to be advancing this cutting-edge navigation research in collaboration with the U.S. Air Force,” said Jen Sovada, President, Public Sector, at SandboxAQ. “AQ-powered navigation technology has great potential to be part of a comprehensive and resilient Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing solution across all domains and military service branches as well as for the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA. It also offers tremendous dual-use promise in the commercial sector for areas such as commercial aviation, unmanned vehicles, and logistics. We look forward to sharing the results of this exciting step forward.”

Bloomberg reported, according to the firm SandboxAQ, the US Air Force is getting ready to test quantum navigation as a replacement for GPS signals.

The Google spinoff will create a prototype for a new navigation system that relies on the Earth’s magnetic field rather than satellite signals that can be jammed, spoofed, or otherwise degraded, according to Jen Sovada, president of the public sector for SandboxAQ, which is scheduled to announce Monday that it won a $1.2 million Small Business Innovation Research contract with the Air Force.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, there have been more reports of GPS jamming from officials, experts, and pilots in Ukraine, Norway, and Russia. This has heightened Pentagon worries that the US needs fail-safe alternatives.

According to the business and US Air Force Major Kyle McAlpin, as part of the initial agreement, the US Air Force will conduct flight tests for quantum navigation on C-17 cargo planes, which transport troops, supplies, and fuel while also providing vital logistical support during hostilities.

As an alternative to global navigation satellite systems, SandboxAQ is utilizing its expertise to create new techniques for global navigation based on the Earth’s magnetic field.

When GPS is unavailable due to line-of-sight impediments or deliberate denial of access, quantum sensors’ properties allow navigation (e.g., jamming or spoofing). The benefits of using quantum sensors to navigate based on the Earth’s magnetic field include being practically jam- and spoof-proof, all-weather, and not needing a clear line of sight to the sky. This improves the position, navigation, and timing (PNT) technology’s current condition by adding performance and resilience.

Navigation is a crucial skill for both military and non-military use cases, whether it be in the air, on or beneath the seas, or on land. The world will be a safer place for everyone if autonomous vehicles that are based on land, air, and water become more resilient. The PNT toolbox will gain substantial capabilities in a variety of settings with the addition of a quantum-based, passive, and globally accessible navigation solution.

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