The Future of Navigation

  • F. G. Major


When we ponder what aspects of navigation may be radically transformed in the future, we are led to think about the most fundamental quantities navigation entails: to reach a given destination, we clearly require a means of measuring distances and directions in space as well as a way to integrate the path and project the expected arrival at the destination. Distances are now defined in terms of the propagation time of light, that is, the velocity of light is taken to be a constant and therefore time measurement has supplanted that of distance. It follows that future advances must be in the areas of the measurement of the propagation time of electromagnetic waves from one point to another, the measurement of direction with respect to an inertial coordinate system, and a rapid means of computing the integrated route. It is precisely in these three areas that fundamentally new developments are beginning to emerge that will transform navigation in the future. The first seemingly wild idea is to build a gyroscope using matter waves (de Broglie waves), rather than light waves as in the laser gyro, and the second is a new generation of atomic clocks using laser cooled atoms/ions, and lastly, in the field of computers we can look forward to quantum computers. Fundamental demonstrations of the feasibility of matter wave gyroscopes and quantum computing have already been published [1, 2] and laser cooled atoms in what are called atomic fountains are currently extant in several laboratory environments [3].


Matter Wave Atom Interferometer Sagnac Effect Laser Gyro Standing Light Wave 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. G. Major
    • 1
  1. 1.Severna ParkUSA

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