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Imaging through fog, snow and heavy rain

Quantum imaging has a key role to play in improving the efficiency of our transport system. 

Many government policies and organisations understand intelligent transport will play a fundamental role in the future of global travel. Driving up efficiency of our existing infrastructure to reduce congestion, pollution, and improve safety; we will find quantum imaging has a key role to play.

Intelligent transport is the active combination of current transport conditions with a relevant operator (computer or person) managing the network. This could be information at traffic lights, train stations, or relayed from a vehicle itself. Currently, conditions are monitored through a mix of sensors and cameras that all feed into a computer. The challenge is for these cameras to send concise, reliable, and insightful information for the computer to make quick, proactive decisions. While cameras have improved immensely and made the prospect of intelligent transport systems possible, they have yet to escape several major limitations that quantum imaging is set to overcome.

The UK is no stranger to poor visibility from bad weather. With climate change set to introduce more extreme cases of rain, fog, and snowfall across the UK, cameras that require a clear view will not reliably support the intelligent transport of tomorrow. Indeed, times of poor weather are when intelligent transport systems are most needed. Nighttime provides another challenge with the fundamental requirement for daylight, or energy-consuming street lighting to see with a camera immediately limiting practical uses.

So how will quantum imaging help? Research through QuantIC, the UK Hub for Quantum Enhanced Imaging, in quantum imaging has centered on cameras that can detect the smallest amount of light – a single photon. Hence, despite fierce rain, fog, snow, or nighttime conditions, quantum cameras need only the smallest amount of light to get through, making them reliable. These photons can also be detected from around corners improving the safety of autonomous vehicles and preventing collisions.