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商业 - 科技

远胜GPS,量子指南针让导航方式大变样

Hallie Detrick 2018年11月15日

量子指南针不仅能免受攻击。即使与通信卫星失去联系,也能继续工作不受影响。

英国伦敦帝国理工学院的研究人员和研究量子技术的专业公司M Squared合作,发明了一种新型定位方法。

新发明叫量子指南针,利用量子加速计测量超冷原子的移动,和以往的加速计不同,这种加速计不管过多久都能保持准确,不需要外部参照。研究人员历时五年打造出这款指南针,长宽均为3英尺(约合0.91米),英国政府投入了3.46亿美元(约2.7亿英镑)。投入商用可能尚需时日,应用在智能手机上可能也不会很快,但导航方式可能因此发生巨大变化。以下是一些原因:

超级安全

跟GPS等依靠全球卫星导航系统(GNSS)的导航方式不一样,量子指南针不需要任何外部参照。相比当前的导航技术,新设备防篡改能力更强。例如GPS可能被黑客攻击或者欺骗,严重影响军用和商用导航系统安全。量子指南针完全独立,不容易受到攻击。

量子指南针不仅能免受攻击。即使与通信卫星失去联系,也能继续工作不受影响。

无比精确

普通手机里的消费类GPS精确度约为15英尺(约合4.57米),军用GPS的精确度在几厘米以内。但精确度很容易受到外界干扰,比如高耸的建筑物。而量子指南针能非常精确地测量细微的变化。

性价比高

如果说花数亿美元做指南针很划算,可能比较难理解。但换个角度看,假如失去通信卫星联络,给英国造成的损失一天就接近13亿美元(约合10亿英镑)。英国退出欧盟在即,脱离欧盟以后,英国能否继续使用与欧盟的伽利略卫星定位系统还不确定。比起用不了伽利略系统陷入被动,投入几亿美元自行研发可能更加保险。(财富中文网)

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

British researchers at the Imperial College in London and quantum technology specialist M Squared have come up with a new way to figure out where in the world you are.

Their so-called quantum compass measures the movements of supercooled atoms using a quantum accelerometer which, unlike previous accelerometers, remains accurate over time and doesn’t require external references. Built over five years with $346 million (£270m) funding from the U.K. government, you probably won’t find the three-foot wide, three-foot tall compass under the Christmas tree or in your smartphone any time soon, but it has the potential to dramatically change how we navigate the world. Here’s how:

It’s ultra secure

Unlike GPS and other methods of navigation that rely on a global navigation satellite system (GNSS), the quantum compass doesn’t rely on any external reference. That makes the device much more tamper-proof than current navigation technology. GPS, for instance, can be hacked or spoofed with major implications for both military and commercial navigation. Since the quantum compass is completely self-contained, it’s not vulnerable to such attacks.

But it’s not only malicious threats the compass protects against. It’ll also keep working if, for whatever reason, we can’t make contact with our satellites.

It’s incredibly accurate

Consumer GPS like the one in your phone is accurate to about 15 feet. Military-grade GPS is accurate to within a few centimeters. But even that level of accuracy can be easily interrupted by something as simple as a tall building. The quantum compass is able to measure even minute changes very accurately.

It’s surprisingly cost-effective

It’s counter-intuitive to say that a compass that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build was a bargain, but that is in fact the case when you consider that a single day without access to satellites would cost the U.K. nearly $1.3 billion (£1 billion). With Brexit on the horizon and uncertainty surrounding the U.K.’s access to the E.U.’s Galileo system, costs for such a hypothetical regarding satellite access may be looking a bit more real.

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