AWS Quantum Technologies Blog

Exploring industrial use cases in the Airbus-BMW Group Quantum Computing Challenge

Airbus and BMW Group have launched a global Quantum Computing Challenge to tackle the most pressing challenges in aviation and automotive: The Airbus-BMW Group Quantum Mobility Quest.

We are delighted to collaborate with Airbus, BMW Group, and The Quantum Insider (TQI) on this challenge, and to invite the quantum community to explore new approaches to industrial applications. It’s still early days in quantum computing, but the Airbus, BMW Group, and AWS teams share the goal to enable research and discovery in this nascent field.

This challenge is the first of its kind, bringing together two global industry leaders to harness quantum technologies for real-world industrial applications, unlocking the potential to forge more efficient, sustainable, and safer solutions for the future of transportation.

This is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on quantum technology and its potential impact on our society. Partnering with an industry leader like BMW Group enables us to mature the technology as we need to bridge the gap between scientific exploration and its potential applications. We’re seeking the best-in-class students, PhDs, academics, researchers, start-ups, companies, or professionals in the field, worldwide to join our challenge to create a massive paradigm shift in the way aircraft are built and flown.” says Isabell Gradert, Vice President Central Research and Technology at Airbus.

Following the success of previous editions of Quantum Computing Challenges by BMW Group and Airbus, we are gearing up for a new wave of innovation, exploring the technology capabilities for sustainability and operational excellence.” said Dr. Peter Lehnert, Vice-President, Research Technologies at BMW Group. “The BMW Group is clearly aiming at positioning itself at the crossroads of quantum technology, the global ecosystem, and cutting-edge solutions. By doing so, we strongly believe in major advances when it comes to sustainable materials for batteries and fuel cells, to generate unique and efficient designs, or to enhance the overall user experience in the BMW Group Products”.

Overview and timeline

The Airbus-BMW Group Quantum Mobility Quest is open to participants from research groups and companies worldwide. You can register now, and prepare to submit your entries prior to the April 30 deadline.

The challenge is organized into two rounds. In the first round, participants need to submit a well-documented concept proposal for one or more of the five challenges, described below. In the second and final round, the selected finalists in each use case will be asked to build out their solutions.

In November a jury composed of leading quantum computing researchers will team up with experts from Airbus, BMW Group, and AWS to evaluate submitted proposals and award one team with a €30,000 prize in each of the five challenges. The final winners will be announced in December.

To develop and test submissions, registered teams will use Amazon Braket – the managed quantum computing service of AWS – along with other AWS services. Braket provides a development environment to explore and build quantum algorithms, test them on quantum circuit simulators, and run them on different quantum computers, including devices from IonQ, OQC, QuEra, and Rigetti. AWS will offer credits for registered teams, upon request.

Airbus-BMW Group Quantum Computing Challenge use cases

The Airbus, BMW Group, and TQI teams have engaged the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab to help design and support the competition. We worked closely with Airbus and BMW Group to define appropriate use cases for the competition, from the many computational challenges that exist inside complex engineering, manufacturing, and logistics domains, among others.

The team had a few key considerations for selecting the use cases. These included the feasibility of using a quantum or nature-inspired approach, the delta between existing classical computing solutions and potential future quantum-based approaches, and the practicality for a time-limited competition format. Based on these, the team developed the following five challenges that have the potential to drive real-world innovation for Airbus and BMW Group.

Participants are invited to select one or more problem statements, with four use cases in the forward track

  1. enhanced corrosion inhibition with quantum simulation
  2. more sustainable supply chain with quantum optimization
  3. future automated mobility with quantum machine learning
  4. improved aerodynamics design with quantum solvers

There is one additional challenge in the reverse track: golden app. For this, candidates can put forward their own quantum technologies with the potential to develop native apps yet to be explored in the transportation sector.

Use case on quantum simulation: investigating quantum computing for corrosion inhibition

The mitigation of surface degradation processes is essential in prolonging the lifespan of Airbus and BMW Group products, improving operational efficiency, optimizing maintenance plans, and ultimately reducing costs. The degradation of the surface is initiated when mechanical damage in the coating exposes the underlying layer of aluminum to the surrounding atmosphere. In a smart coating material, an inhibitor is embedded within the coating matrix and, when damaged, forms a protective layer blocking the advancement of aluminum degradation.

The goal of this challenge is to model the process of adsorption of inhibitors on an aluminum surface and to understand the binding properties using quantum methods.

Use case on quantum optimization: towards an efficient and sustainable supply chain

Transport and logistics between manufacturing sites significantly contributes to the carbon-dioxide emissions and drives industrial efficiency and cost. In particular, the complexity of mobility products like vehicles and aircraft leads to highly complex supply chains. Airbus and BMW Group are both committed to reducing their CO2 emissions and to ensuring a reliable and efficient supply chain for their manufacturing processes.

The objective of this use case is to elaborate a quantum solution for a manufacturing supply chain problem respecting the driving application constraints.

Use case on quantum machine learning: augmenting generative AI for critical test scenario images

Future autonomous mobility will rely heavily on reliable and safe AI vision systems – it’s an essential pillar for autonomous vehicles and for automated landing of aircraft. To achieve the highest level of safety, it is necessary to have access to representative datasets of images specially for critical test scenarios. Those include lower visibility during night-time as well as adverse weather, intricate traffic patterns, and obstructions on runways. Quantum computers offer potential advantages for such challenges compared to their classical counterparts.

This problem statement focuses on the generation of images that encapsulate critical scenarios using quantum modeling techniques.

Use case on quantum solvers: predictive aeroacoustic and aerodynamic modeling

The ability to accurately predict aerodynamic flows and the propagation of sound waves are key capabilities in the mobility industry, with high relevance both for the automotive and aviation sector. This ability enables the development of high-quality products with extreme performance, like reducing noise pollution and lowering carbon emissions. In this context, it is paramount to solve partial differential equations describing multi-scale problems with many millions of degrees of freedom, limited by the available computational power of high performance computing (HPC) systems.

This problem statement focuses on finding most suitable quantum-based approaches to solve the relevant aerodynamic and acoustic equations.

Reverse track: the “golden app” – pushing the boundaries of quantum technology for mobility

Typical approaches nudge quantum technology to the most driving challenges which often are not quantum native, though. Airbus and BMW Group are both leading companies in the automotive and aerospace sector, respectively, and committed to embracing quantum technology early – as part of their innovation strategies.

In this challenge, we invite you to propose novel solutions (potentially the “golden app”) for both hardware and software where you see a large potential but where the relevance for the mobility sector still needs to be proven.

How to get started

To learn more and to register for the challenge, visit the Airbus BMW Group Quantum computing challenge website. Each use case is distinct and requires unique approaches, so we provide more detailed information on submission requirements for each of them. If you take up the Quantum Mobility Quest, don’t forget to request AWS Credits, so you can develop and test your approaches on the quantum computers available through Amazon Braket.

We look forward to your submissions!