The quantum drive used by Union ships behave like Federation (Star Trek) warp drives for all intents and purposes. It uses three engines to enter a warped space bubble that allows it to travel faster than light when measured in normal space.

In Federation starships, this is achieved by generating a warp field by driving warp plasma through warp coils. How does the Union quantum drive work? What quantum effects are at play?

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    Very well, thank you. – Chris B. Behrens Dec 16 '17 at 4:33
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    I fail to understand how a question asking about the fictional way in which a fictional FTL drive works could possibly be off-topic. – Valorum Dec 16 '17 at 8:49

There are a few (vague) descriptions of how the drive works. Nothing concrete, unfortunately

It has something to do with space being quantized

André: ... We have a faster-than-light drive system, which we call quantum drive as opposed to warp drive (the idea being that space, at the deepest level, is quantized, like the energy levels in atoms, and if someday we understand how this works we might be able to manipulate the fabric of space to travel faster than light).

Our power source is called Dysonium, a fictional transuranic element we named in honor of the physicist Freeman Dyson.

Aliens and AI: André Bormanis Explores the Science Behind 'The Orville

The shape of the rings is important, they're tori, not just semi-circles

Bormanis has written a whole show bible about the various science elements within the universe of The Orville. A good amount is dedicated to the ship. On The Orville you don’t have a warp drive, but you do have a “quantum drive.” And for this faster than light sci-fi ship they are using the theories of physicist Miguel Alcubierre who has postulated a form of drive that works within Einstein’s general relativity. And this theory’s call for torus rings are what is behind the rings of the U.S.S. Orville itself. They have even named the exotic matter that is required for such a drive “Dysonium” after physicist Freeman Dyson.

6 Takeaways From A Set Visit To ‘The Orville’

Each of the rings represents an engine. Each engine contains something that requires containment. Presumably that something (dysonium?) is traveling around the rings at high speed.

Newton: Sir, we've lost both quantum phase inducers in the upper engine! I need to divert all available power to the containment regulators now!

The Orville #10

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