Quantum computing

and its business applications


Quantum Computing

Image by LeeRosario on Pixabay

How are businesses harnessing the power of quantum computing?

Not every day do we come across technology that has the power to revolutionise the world, which is why many businesses are turning to quantum computing. With quantum computers’ ability to solve complex problems in a short time compared to their predecessors, rapid industry advancements can be expected within the next decade as experts work tirelessly to harness their power.

Many key players have formed partnerships as the market for quantum computers worldwide continues to get competitive. They are collaborating strategically for research and development purposes while simultaneously trying to expand their product portfolios. The quantum race is moving ahead at full speed, with the United States currently leading the way and Asian countries such as Japan, India and China challenging the US hegemony. India has pledged to invest US$1 billion in the next five years to advance its quantum technology. Last year, International Business Machines (IBM) and the University of Tokyo unveiled Japan’s most powerful quantum computer to pave the way for Japan’s quantum future.

IBM’s quantum network alone has more than 180 clients, which include Fortune 500 companies, industry giants, startups, educational institutions, and research labs - all looking to bridge the gap between their respective industries and quantum computing. IBM has 20 operational quantum computers worldwide, running billions of executions daily.

Within the automotive industry, as manufacturers are working towards reaching carbon neutrality through the development of Electric Vehicles (EVs), one area that seems to be challenging is the improvement and cost reduction of EV batteries (currently the most expensive component of EVs). The inside of a battery is a complex ecosystem, and simulating the chemical reactions that occur on a molecular level inside the battery is difficult, even for the most advanced supercomputers. However, this can change with quantum computing. The objective for companies is to shorten development time and to make better, cost-effective, optimised and robust batteries that last longer and charge faster.

IBM’s move into the quantum computing field had gained the attention of German automaker giant Mercedes Benz. Mercedes has partnered with IBM to better understand the chemistry inside a battery by utilising quantum computing’s simulation and calculation capabilities. Together, they expect to improve their current and future EV batteries, shorten development times and at the same time look for alternative materials to lithium for manufacturing.

Meanwhile, Hyundai has partnered with IonQ, another leader in quantum computing, and several years ago, Google and Volkswagen also announced their partnership to improve EV batteries. The EV research that the automotive giants are carrying out will not only enhance the efficiency of the batteries but also assist in tackling the climate change threats the world is experiencing.

LG Electronics of South Korea has also partnered with IBM to leverage quantum computing’s hardware and software capabilities for their future businesses - enabling them to up their game and provide customers with something unique. Together, the two companies plan to strengthen the quantum capabilities of South Korea and resolve new problems that arise with emerging technology. They aim to explore quantum computing’s application in areas such as artificial intelligence, big data, connected cars (cars that can connect to the internet), IoT, robotics and many more.

Within the aerospace industry, Airbus & IonQ announced their collaboration in August to explore how quantum computing can help with aerospace services and passenger experiences. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the aerospace industry, like others, is going through a supply chain crisis. Airbus has now turned to quantum computing to understand how to improve the efficiency of the supply chain process – specifically cargo loading. They plan to develop intelligent algorithms using quantum computers to efficiently distribute cargo and flights, potentially leading to cost savings. In the long run, Airbus hopes to utilise the power of quantum computing to improve other areas of air travel, such as better aerodynamics, optimised trajectories and reduced fuel consumption.

The energy industry is also exploring ways to use quantum computing to improve its current and future business models. Energy giants BP and ExxonMobil are amongst the many companies that have joined IBM’s quantum network. BP intends to explore solutions to its business and engineering challenges, boost operational efficiencies, and find ways to reduce carbon emissions to become a net zero company by 2050. On the other hand, ExxonMobil is trying to optimise its natural gas shipping routes.

The examples above are just a few industries that are currently attempting to make use of quantum technology. The potential of quantum computers draws in many other industry players and drives governments and companies to invest heavily. While there is still a lot of ongoing research on this technology, it is highly likely that quantum computers will bring about a paradigm shift in how many industries operate once fully developed.

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