Quantum Computing Poised to Boost Industrial Automation

Greater robotic precision and quantum-powered digital twins could generate better production performance, but there’s a catch…


Quantum computing technologies are advancing and will likely transform many industries over the next decade. There’s much focus on the emerging technology’s use cases in finance, cybersecurity, material sciences, pharmaceuticals, and high-energy physics. However, industrial automation is one of the many other areas where transformation is expected.

The greatest uncertainty about when the quantum revolution will occur lies in the challenge of increasing the number of qubits—also known as quantum bits— in gate-based quantum computers. The crux of problem is that gate-based quantum computers are currently very error prone, and although increasing the number of qubits they use increases their processing power, it also exacerbates the error issue.

While quantum physicists and engineers race to develop better error-correction techniques, enterprise early adopters are increasingly harnessing quantum computers made accessible via the public cloud to push performance gains in optimization problems, statistics and simulations while patiently working around the errors. Others embrace quantum annealers, which are devices that aren’t viewed in the same league as the holy grail of a fault-tolerant gate-based quantum computer, but are showing more immediate practicality as they aren’t as vulnerable to errors. There’s also hope that quantum analog simulators will show speedier progress compared to general-purpose digital quantum machines.

The growing subset of early adopters is expected to drive the global quantum computing market’s expansion by 497% between 2022 and 2028. Companies like BMW, Toyota, Hyundai, Airbus, Fujifilm and many others are already getting practical value out of quantum computers despite the sector not yet reaching the milestone of quantum advantage. Although there’s widespread uncertainty about when the threshold will be breached, IBM is one of several players that’s ramping up efforts, targeting quantum advantage by 2026through quantum error correction (QEC) techniques.


Additionally, Multiverse Computing, a quantum software developer in San Sebastian, Spain, has partnered with the Bosch Automotive Electronics plant in Madrid to harness quantum computing to create a digital twin of a factory. Multiverse’s quantum-based optimization algorithms will assess the performance of equipment and production processes to enhance efficiency, energy and waste management.

Quantum computing is already enhancing supply chain management. The computational power of quantum annealers can provide optimal transport routes, enhance fleet efficiency and improve air traffic control. Quantum computing has also reportedly played a role in getting food to North American grocery stores more efficiently. According to a report from Deloitte, a Canadian grocery store chain used quantum computing to reduce optimization computing time from 25 hours to seconds. Additionally, the burgeoning field of quantum sensing is poised replace traditional field sensors to provide greater accuracy for industrial monitoring in factory settings or environmental monitoring in the field.

Read full article by Jacob Bourne here.