A British submarine may be the first to test quantum locational technology capable of measuring an object’s relative position 1,000 times more accurately than current GPS. Submarines must surface to confirm their location–exposing their position–because GPS doesn’t work under water, but new quantum accelerometers could change that. The technology is based on Nobel prize-winning research which determined that lasers can trap and cool atoms to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. Once chilled, those atoms are easily perturbed by an outside force, and another laser beam can be used to track their movement.
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What’s the Big Idea?
A more accurate global location system could broadly benefit consumer products from mobile phones to cars. In fact, quantum positioning technology could be the essential ingredient to bring self-driving cars to a dealership near you. Because location is everything with self-driven autos–it knows only to stop if its positioning system identifies an object in its path, say a fallen tree, another car, or a human–a more accurate system could ensure passenger safety. In addition to submarines, quantum positioning could be used to accurately track and deliver explosives to their targets.