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Quantum computing could play a key role in optimizing flight operations for large numbers of urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles, new research from Sumitomo Corporation, OneSky Systems, and Tohoku University suggests.
The collaborators last week announced the completion of Phase 1 of their UAM quantum computing pilot program, meant to demonstrate how quantum computing can develop an optimized real-time, three-dimensional air traffic control system for high-density UAM operations.
The research is part of Sumitomo Corporation’s Quantum Transformation project, which aims to use quantum computing to achieve efficiencies across diverse industries. OneSky, which Sumitomo acquired a stake in last year, is contributing its expertise as a provider of unmanned aircraft systems traffic management (UTM). Tohoku University brings extensive research experience in quantum annealing, a quantum computing method used to solve optimization problems.
Such problems are likely to arise regularly in future UAM operations. As OneSky explained, strategic deconfliction and dynamic scheduling during flight planning can help ensure that UAM vehicles are safely separated from each other and other types of aircraft. Nevertheless, unforeseen contingencies such as weather events or vertiport closures could require an aircraft to dynamically change its route in flight, causing cascading conflicts for other operations.