Acubed Partnership with qBraid Explores How Quantum Computing May Address Aerospace’s Most Computationally Intensive Problems

At Acubed, we encourage an open-door policy for ideation, intellectual collisions and passionate debate, and are constantly looking to push great ideas forward and test hypotheses that have the potential to transform our industry in meaningful ways. This year, we set our sights on exploring whether quantum computing technology has the power to address the aerospace industry’s most computationally intensive problems.

To find out, we kicked off an exciting collaboration with qBraid, a fast-growing quantum computing development and deployment startup in June 2022. Through this partnership, we’re bringing deep technical knowledge of computational problems and pairing it with qBraid’s expertise in developing and deploying quantum solutions. Together, our teams are exploring high-impact applications, such as flight path optimization, by analyzing workflows and applying quantum computing to accelerate bottlenecks. To date, we’ve already tested the use of quantum computing to address flight trajectory optimization, with promising results.

Quantum computing is a dynamic field of computation that harnesses the power of quantum mechanics. Quantum computers leverage the power of quantum mechanics to solve complex problems much faster—in some cases, exponentially faster-than classical computers, which become maxed out by the amount of computation resources required as a problem size grows. The draw of quantum computing lies in its ability to overcome computational bottlenecks, which hinder progress in various fields.

Aerospace is rife with potential opportunities when it comes to quantum computing. The aim of our partnership with qBraid is to push the aerospace industry forward by:

  • Looking for the most impactful opportunities where quantum computing techniques can make a difference for aviation in short timeframes and understand how to bring them into the industry faster;
  • Analyzing various computational workflows and uncovering problems where an already known quantum algorithm can accelerate a workflow (over classical digital computers);
  • Productizing the research uncovered through this partnership to upskill engineering teams across Airbus.

“This is an exciting area of innovation in the near to mid-term for Airbus and the industry as a whole,” said Airbus’ quantum technology coordinator, Jasper Krauser. “As a nimble innovation center, Acubed is accelerating Airbus’ entry into the quantum era through meaningful contributions that complement other quantum-related activities we’ve conducted elsewhere in the company, such as the Airbus Quantum Computing challenge we launched in 2019.”

The first unique problem Acubed is exploring is in the realm of flight path optimization. It is a complex problem that involves an intractably large number of variables and the simulation of multiple domains of physics. The work that has been done to date has already demonstrated that Grover’s algorithm, or the quantum search algorithm, can help solve the flight path optimization problem faster. Sub-problems in the optimization procedure have also been identified, resulting in polynomial speedup, meaning the amount of speedup is a polynomial function of the size of the problem.

Solving complex optimization problems like flight path optimization provides the aviation industry with new ways to help diminish its carbon footprint while providing more value for airlines. Our teams are rolling up their sleeves for more exciting exploratory work in 2023, as there is still much to be done and great progress to be made. Thus far, quantum simulations have provided extraordinary insight into what quantum computing can bring to the aerospace industry in the near term, as well as the long term, when the technology matures to handle full computing power. Watch this space to hear more about how together with qBraid we are making continued headway in understanding how quantum computing can move the industry closer to our end goal of net-zero carbon aviation.

- Guillermo Jenaro-Rabadan