Quantum Technologies Meet Robotics
Posted on 18/01/2018
On 13th December last year, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) hosted a meeting between quantum technologists and the robotics developer and user communities. The event was held at the Birmingham Research Park and jointly organised by KTN’s Robotics and AI Special Interest Group (RAI-SIG) and the Quantum Technologies Special Interest Group (QT-SIG).
The workshop explored the applications of sensing, imaging and navigation capabilities offered by quantum technologies, to robotics. Delegates heard about the challenges of surveying harsh radiation environments in the Fukushima nuclear plant damaged by the Japanese 2011 tsunami, which is littered by dead robots with damaged electronics from the radiation. Solutions offered by quantum technologies include, optical communications using low intensity sources and single photon detectors (Quantum Enhanced Imaging Hub – QuantIC), and diamond magnetometers (University of Warwick), which do not use electronic components on the sensor and use optical fibres for signalling to remote electronics.
The group also learnt about quantum gravitational sensors that use cold atom traps. This technology is being developed by the Quantum Hub for Sensing and Metrology and tested with end users in the UK. These sensors can be used on roaming robotic platforms to perform gravitational surveys of the land, with more penetration depth than ground penetrating radar. A robot platform capable of doing this and presented at the workshop was the autonomous, off-road Dynium Robot, which could carry the gravitational sensor while surveying land.
The workshop provided the opportunity for the two communities to network, and a number of opportunities for visits to companies and universities were identified to scope innovative project opportunities for robotic applications to make use of quantum imaging, sensing and navigation opportunities.
Images from the event can be found here.