Advanced Navigation acquires Vai Photonics

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Advanced Navigation has acquired of Vai Photonics, a spin-out from The Australian National University (ANU) developing patented photonic sensors for precision navigation.

Aircraft landing and take off in harsh conditions
Aircraft landing and take off in harsh conditions - Advanced Navigation

Vai Photonics will join Sydney, Australia-headquartered Advanced Navigation to commercialise their research into autonomous and robotic applications across land, air, sea and space.

In a statement, James Spollard, CTO and co-founder of Vai Photonics said: “Precision navigation when GPS is unavailable or unreliable is a major challenge in the development of autonomous systems. Our emerging photonic sensing technology will enable positioning and navigation that is orders of magnitude more stable and precise than existing solutions in these environments.

“By combining laser interferometry and electro-optics with advanced signal processing algorithms and real-time software, we can measure how fast a vehicle is moving in three dimensions. As a result, we can accurately measure how the vehicle is moving through the environment, and from this infer where the vehicle is located with great precision.”

The technology, in development for over 15 years at ANU, is expected to solve complex autonomy challenges across aerospace, automotive, weather, space exploration as well as railways and logistics.

Professor Brian Schmidt, vice-chancellor of the Australian National University said: “The work that underpins Vai Photonics’ advanced autonomous navigation systems stems from the search for elusive gravitational waves – ripples in space and time caused by massive cosmic events like black holes colliding.

“The team have built on a decade of research and development across advanced and ultra-precise laser measurements, digital signals and quantum optics to build their innovative navigation technology. It’s really exciting to see the team take another major step in their incredible journey.”

The acquisition finalised in April 2022, subject to closing conditions. The Vai Photonics team has been integrated into Advanced Navigation’s research and development team based in Canberra.