Enterprise SaaS company, SandboxAQ, received an award for the Direct-to-Phase-II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by the U.S. Air Force to research quantum navigation technologies. SandboxAQ’s roots began with Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company. Following SandboxAQ’s launch in 2022, the company continues to grow and explore more capabilities. Since spinning off from Alphabet, SandboxAQ marked its first deal with the U.S. military this past November to analyze encryption capabilities and better protect data networks from quantum attacks.

quantum navigation

Under the latest 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. This new research effort will be used to explore the impact of these emerging capabilities on future military systems.

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.”

Impact on National Security

Sovada pointed out on LinkedIN the value that this capability brings to national security. She shared, “GPS is denied or degraded daily around the globe whether from nation states such as Russia jamming into Ukraine (and impacting countries like Norway) or from others who buy off the shelf commercial jammers. Regardless, GPS jamming impacts safety of flight for both commercial and military aircraft. It also impacts surface vessels’ ability to navigate in the ocean, potentially cost millions of dollars in refueling to get back on course.”

Sovada notes that the exploration of finding alternatives to GPS not dependent on satellite connectivity is key in continuously keeping flights safe if GPS gets lost. It’s about keeping everyone involved safe – and as emerging technologies grow, it’s important to find innovative ways to reduce potential for any negative impact on military operations.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.