Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) company OneSky has announced the completion of Phase 1 of the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Quantum Computing pilot program, meant to demonstrate how quantum computing can develop an optimized real-time, three-dimensional air traffic control system for when our airspace is inevitably buzzing with thousands of autonomous vehicles.
The research project is a partnership between OneSky and the Sumitomo Corporation Quantum Transformation Project, which aims to revolutionize society with the power of quantum computers; and Tohoku University, which has extensive research experience in quantum annealing. Quantum annealing, the methodology used in this pilot program, is a quantum computing method used specifically to find the optimal solution of problems involving a large number of solutions.
To incorporate thousands of UAM vehicles safely and efficiently into our airspace, it is critical to have safe separation between these vehicles, as well as traditional manned aviation. This can be done through strategic deconfliction and dynamic scheduling of UAM flight requests during flight planning. However, while in flight, it is possible that unforeseen contingencies (such as a weather events, emergencies, or infrastructure outages) will require a UAM vehicle to dynamically change its route to avoid the contingency. In high density operations, this change in route will cause cascading conflicts for other active operations. Therefore, advanced solutions must be created to solve this tactical deconfliction problem in real-time.
Further, in addition to an ever-changing dynamic airspace, UAM operations will include new resources as well (e.g., airspace corridors, vertiport infrastructure, demand modeling, etc.). These additional scheduling considerations will ultimately lead to numerous massive and complex data sets. That’s why OneSky, and the pilot program partners, have embarked on a first-of-its-kind pilot program to leverage the application of quantum computing inside of OneSky’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform.
Based on the initial findings of the program, the team was able to drastically optimize the utilization of resources and airspace, increasing the density of aircraft flying simultaneously by roughly 70 percent. The team also demonstrated that quantum computing is about 10 times faster than conventional computers in certain problems. In the future, quantum computers will be able to identify hundreds of thousands of optimized flight routes as their performance improves.
OneSky has a long history of developing solutions to maximize the capacity and efficiency of UAM traffic, including being selected for NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign, which brings together global thought leaders to conduct research that enables a safe, secure, and effective advanced air mobility system in the U.S. Through these projects, OneSky continues is mission to ensure safe, efficient, and scalable access to all airspace users.
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