Weekly Takeaways-February 23, 2023
Updated: Jun 19
Theme of the Week
What do you call a Smart City without PNT? A city. Most definitions of a Smart City talk about a city that leverages connectivity for the Internet of Things (IOT), transportation, sustainability, and energy usage. But this technology already exists. So what is the city of the future really lacking? This: Self-driving vehicles, air mobility, flying taxis, and delivery drones can reduce traffic and emissions. But this won't happen without better navigation infrastructure. Vehicles are already being outfitted with cameras and lidar for proximity sensors. But these prevent collisions or spatial awareness - they don't provide guidance. And GPS and other space-based systems can’t provide effective navigation in urban canyons, tunnels, and parking garages. One solution was described in 2008 by Steve Jobs: in large cities, we are surrounded by wi-fi routers and cell towers that are natural beacons. The next step is to provide position and timing over these beacons as part of a larger mobility network. But these beacons need to be accurately – and securely – synchronized. Timing not only impacts the position accuracy, but in a future of flying cars you don’t want infrastructure that can be easily hijacked. Last Week's Theme: The Server Lights Are Big and Bright
European leaders approved the IRIS² constellation as an “alternative to Starlink.” A key difference: “Security would be provided through quantum encryption.”
“While every part of assured position, navigation and timing is critical to future U.S. Army missions, timing often seems to be overlooked,” according the US Army director of the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space (APNT/Space) Cross-Functional Team.
SK Telecom and IDQuantique announced plans to unveil their “Quantum Cryptography One Chip” at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023. They are already providing quantum random number generation chips on the latest Samsung flagship phones – but only in Korea.
Another large solar flare erupted Friday, but, fortunately only glanced the Earth. It still “created temporary radio blackouts on the sunlit side of Earth” and impressive aurora borealis displays. The peak may be over but you can still check out this aurora forecaster.
The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) recently noted that the “U.S. military must stop building satellite systems from scratch and better leverage of the commercial space sector by buying commoditized systems and services.”
This was echoed by the US Space Force: “Traditionally, the military has chosen to build expensive, bespoke solutions," but "there has been an increased emphasis on leveraging commercial systems and services when possible."
There is also renewed interest in dual-use and defense focused startups among investors like Andreessen Horowitz, who recently hosted the American Dynamism summit geared towards startups taking “on our country’s most pressing issues to support the national interest.”
Royal Institute of Navigation LEO PNT Workshop, March 1, London
Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, March 13 - 16, Vancouver, Canada
Satellite 2023, March 13 - 16, Washington DC
Space Symposium, April 17 - 20, Colorado Springs, CO
Commercialising Quantum Global, May 17 - 19, London UK
Quantum 2.0 Conference, Denver, CO, June 18 - 22
The More You Know...
Quantumania isn't just the title of a superhero movie - in the real world there has been a lot of interest in quantum technologies recently. The incredible applications enabled by quantum technologies has created a sort of global quantum arms race. By some estimates (including recent McKinsey and Deloitte reports) China was the leader in global quantum funding. In the US, funding from the National Quantum Initiative Act led to a renewed government focus and new quantum testbeds in Washington DC, Chicago, Tennessee, and New York. This race is so critical that The World Economic Forum raised concerns about a growing quantum divide, since "quantum technology will exponentially accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution."