The Era of Commercial Quantum Computing Has Begun

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When most people think about quantum computing, they envision giant golden spools of wires, knitted together around complicated, beeping machines — a sci-fi engineering and physics contraption that is still in the future. However, for many companies, quantum technology is driving operations today.

From jet engine design to logistics and cargo handling in ports, quantum computing solutions and services are already supporting researchers or functioning within businesses.

Techopedia sat with quantum leading companies D-Wave, IBM, and NTT to get the inside story.

Key Takeaways

  • Today, quantum computing is used by many sectors, from defense to supply chain management, logistics, health, and aerospace.
  • Hybrid quantum-classical systems are common — combining traditional computers with quantum processors to leverage the strengths of both.
  • Quantum error correction is crucial for wider adoption, and techniques are needed to reduce errors and make quantum computing more reliable.
  • Quantum computing and AI are complementary: Integrating these technologies holds promise for disruptive advancements in all fields.

Quantum Computing & Business Optimization

Fortune Business Insight reports that the global next-generation computing market size is expected to grow from $160.97 billion in 2024 to $809.71 billion in 2032, a growth that is largely attributed to quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and edge computing.

In today’s world, building hybrid quantum systems that combine traditional computing resources with quantum is becoming the norm.

In March this year, Rolls-Royce and Riverlane announced a project that will use a hybrid quantum-classical framework combination, where traditional computers are programmed to instruct quantum computers.

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Maria Maragkou, VP of Product and Partnerships at Riverlane spoke to Techopedia, telling us that quantum has reached the point where industry leaders are starting to explore quantum computing use cases across their sectors.

“We’re working on a project with Xanadu and Rolls Royce to accelerate the development of applications that will allow quantum computers to model the flow of air through jet engines.

“This will give Rolls-Royce the means to rapidly evaluate and implement new quantum algorithms, bringing huge efficiencies to future product design processes.”

Rolls Royce is not alone in the wave of first quantum computing real-world application uses.

Davidson Technologies, a company in the defense space, and D-Wave built a hybrid-quantum missile defense application. The application required factoring in a wide set of variables, including wind, rain, lightning, and solar flare activity.

“Using hybrid quantum technology, it analyzed over 67 million possible solutions, generating an answer in about 13 seconds.” Thom from D-Wave told Techopedia.

In the Port of LA — the largest national facility handling shipborne cargo — SavantX used D-Wave’s technology to help improve cargo management.

“The technology increased efficiency by 60% at Pier 300, and reduced the turnaround time for the trucks picking up those cargo containers by 12%.”

Thom broke down how traditional tools and hybrid technologies work.

“While classical optimization excels at problems that feature independent, continuous decisions — for example, determining the optimal speed of grain conveyor belts that feed independent silos — hybrid quantum technology shines for problems with mutually dependent binary elements, such as assigning deliveries to truck drivers.”

D-Wave already works with more than 100 organizations, including more than two dozen of the Forbes Global 2000, who adopt and use quantum technology to address computationally complex problems.

Customers include Pattison Food Group, the Canadian grocery food chain that uses quantum hybrid tech to automate driver scheduling. Currently in operation, the company has been able to trim what was once an 80-hour task down to just 15 hours each week, saving up to 80% of time.

Murray Thom, Vice President of Quantum Technology Evangelism at D-Wave spoke to Techopedia about the types of optimization problems quantum computing can tackle successfully.

“Optimization is a common business problem and one that’s uniquely suited for annealing quantum computing.”

Thom explained that this method of quantum computing is capable of accelerating problem-solving and decision-making for a broad range of common organizational tasks, including supply chain management, manufacturing efficiency, employee scheduling, fraud detection, and waste and emissions reduction.

D-Wave says their quantum computing solutions help organizations solve complex problems, lower costs, drive efficiencies and decision-making, and improve predictive analytics.

“The technology is available today to help with a range of complex computational optimization problems, including resource routing, resource allocation, workforce job scheduling, and job shop optimization.”

Quantum Error Correction (QEC) Tech Driving Adoption

Hardware companies have demonstrated their ability to scale the number of qubits across all different techniques sooner than imagined.

“Unfortunately, the qubits in today’s quantum computers are highly error-prone due to their sensitivity to external factors known as quantum noise,” Maragkou said.

Currently, these quantum computers produce around one error per 1000 operations. But for the broader adoption of quantum computing, this must be reduced to one error per trillion quantum operations — a huge technical hurdle.

“Fortunately, we can tackle these qubit errors by implementing a technique called quantum error correction (QEC).”

QEC solutions allow companies from different sectors to leverage and fast-track the development and deployment of hybrid quantum computing systems.

An Expanding Network of Quantum Developers

Another company leading in quantum technology is IBM. Over the last eight years, the company has deployed more than 60 computing systems, increasing with each new model scale and performance. These systems are available over the cloud, deployed at IBM facilities, and IBM client sites.

Techopedia spoke with Olivia Lanes, Global Lead at IBM Quantum Learning. Lanes said that the reason IBM started an Optimization Working Group (one of five) is to find the quantum advantage for “optimization problem-solving” to drive business value.

IBM scientists created a quantum error-correcting code about 10 times more efficient than prior methods. Members of the IBM Optimization group include the energy company E.ON, and Wells Fargo. Optimization problems that the group is working on include financial fraud detection, network design, and complex routing.

IBM has deployed IBM Quantum System One quantum computers for clients in Germany, Japan, Cleveland, Quebec, and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Additionally, their machines are being installed in South Korea, Spain, and at the RIKEN Scientific Institute in Japan.

The IBM Quantum Network now has more than 250 member organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, universities, government agencies, laboratories, and startups – including JSR Corp, a materials company in Japan, and HSBC — all extracting value from quantum systems.

NTT Research is developing a coherent Ising machine (CIM), a hybrid of quantum and classical principles. NTT believes that this is the most promising approach to quantum today.

Kazu Gomi, President and CEO, told Techopedia:

“Currently, researchers are running simulations of quantum algorithms on classical computers, essentially creating a ‘quantum-inspired’ computer.”

The CIM hybrid quantum computer is expected to positively impact industries such as chemical (new material development and process improvements), pharmaceutical (drug discovery), logistics (optimization), manufacturing (process optimization), telecommunications (wireless frequency allocation), and machine learning and AI.

Supercharged Tech: Quantum Meets AI

Inevitably, when thinking about advanced computing tech, one question emerges. What happens when AI integrates with quantum technology? Thom from D-Wave explained that the architecture of a quantum processor mirrors that of a quantum neural network, so this establishes “a natural link between quantum and AI”.

“We believe quantum computing and AI are complementary technologies that will open a variety of opportunities. Quantum computing is key to helping enhance AI by enabling more accurate and efficient model training.”

D-Wave is already working on this. Earlier this year, the company announced a collaboration with Zapata AI. The project combines quantum and generative AI to develop and bring to market commercial applications, initially focused on building quantum generative AI models that accelerate the discovery of new molecules.

“There’s a misconception that quantum computing isn’t available now, but we have entered the era of commercial quantum computing and are starting to witness how quantum technology can drive impact — today.”

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Ray Fernandez
Senior Technology Journalist
Ray Fernandez
Senior Technology Journalist

Ray is an independent journalist with 15 years of experience, focusing on the intersection of technology with various aspects of life and society. He joined Techopedia in 2023 after publishing in numerous media, including Microsoft, TechRepublic, Moonlock, Hackermoon, VentureBeat, Entrepreneur, and ServerWatch. He holds a degree in Journalism from Oxford Distance Learning, and two specializations from FUNIBER in Environmental Science and Oceanography. When Ray is not working, you can find him making music, playing sports, and traveling with his wife and three kids.