Airbus quantum computing challenge could benefit defence sector

Talal Husseini 23 January 2019 (Last Updated January 23rd, 2019 16:30)

European aerospace giant Airbus has launched a global quantum computing challenge for complex optimisation and modelisation in order to enhance the lifecycle of aircraft.

Airbus quantum computing challenge could benefit defence sector
Airbus has initiated a new global quantum computing competition in order to enhance the lifecycle of aircraft across all areas of business. Credit: Alan Wilson.

European aerospace giant Airbus has launched a global quantum computing challenge for complex optimisation and modelisation in order to enhance the lifecycle of aircraft.

Airbus has invited experts to propose quantum computing solutions to real-time industrial activities, including in the defence and space sector.

An Airbus spokesperson told Air Force Technology: “Airbus continues to innovate and leverage emerging technologies to achieve its ambition of shaping the future of flight.  With quantum technologies set to be the next big game changer for the aerospace industry, there are a significant number of opportunities for Airbus’ business across all of its divisions and product lines.

“For Defence and Space in particular, quantum technologies could be applied to satellite mission planning; for faster data processing and shorter response times for imaging requests; secure communications for faster and safer encryption of GPS signals; radars, military aircraft, drones and payloads for future aircraft and spacecraft systems; and to sensing capabilities for enhanced inertial sensing in challenging environments and more advanced remote detection.

"With quantum technologies set to be the next big game changer, there are a number of significant opportunities for Airbus’ business across all of its divisions and product lines."

Quantum computers deliver a much higher level of computational power than traditional computers and Airbus has already integrated and leveraged its quantum technologies for aspects such as route optimisation and satellite imagery, using high performance computing.

The company has identified five distinct challenge areas that quantum computing might overcome, from design and operations to optimising airline revenue streams.

Solutions can range from the more basic, such as the optimisation of aircraft climb, to the more complex, including wing-box design.  Quantum computing can bring about solutions through the sharing of in-house and external data, knowledge and expertise.

The competition is open to quantum computing professionals, researchers, and start-up companies, as well as PhD and post-graduate students. Running throughout 2019, entrants will compete for hardware access to develop their concepts for real use-cases, and will have the opportunity to work with Airbus industry experts.