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Advanced Navigation wins photonic chips grant

Defence has awarded Advanced Navigation $306,631 to help create Australia’s first commercial manufacturing capability for photonic chips.

Photonic chips are laser powered and can process information at the speed of light, making them useful for data-intense applications such as AI.

Advanced Navigation, meanwhile, is best known for developing technology that makes it safer and easier for lunar landers to touch down on the moon’s surface. Its LUNA sensor takes the guesswork out of navigation by using velocity and altitude information instead of visual references which can fail due to a lack of light or dust.

“The technological breakthroughs enabled by photonic chips offer new opportunities for defence and commercial applications requiring always available, ultra-high accuracy, orientation and navigation, including subsea, marine, robotics, aerospace and space,” said the company’s co-founder Xavier Orr.


The chips will be used across Advanced Navigation’s navigation systems, including its Boreas X90, which will be used by Space Machines onboard its orbital servicing vehicle, scheduled to launch off the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in early 2024. The business hopes to use the money to eventually manufacture 45,000 photonic chips per year.

Advanced Navigation uses photonic chips in its fibre-optic gyroscopes inertial navigation systems in global defence forces as a critical capability for assured positioning, navigation and timing across navy, army, and air force to enable autonomous capability, accurate positioning, and high-value asset tracking.

“In the context of A-PNT, precision and reliability are non-negotiable. Utilising machine learning, Advanced Navigation’s automated manufacturing process delivers components that function in the most challenging conditions, from subsea to space,” according to a company statement published on 7 December.

“Specifically, advanced quality control mechanisms, such as real-time monitoring and machine vision can detect defects at the early stage of production. This ensures only components meeting the highest standards are integrated into the navigation system, enhancing overall reliability, quality, and longevity.


“Advanced Navigation’s mission is to be the catalyst of the autonomy revolution. Powered by a deep curiosity to apply groundbreaking technologies to uncover and explore new frontiers, the company is ultimately extending human capabilities to build a more resilient and sustainable future, with safer outcomes.”

Space Connect previously reported how the NSW-based business hopes to be the “first Australian company to operate on the moon” when its Boreas X90 and LiDAV systems are used by US transportation company Intuitive Machines.

Intuitive Machines is planning three moon missions with NASA which will deliver at least two lunar communication relay satellites by 2025.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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