Automotive company BMW is using a Honeywell quantum computer to help manage and optimize its supply chain.

The two companies, along with Singapore-based quantum software startup Entropica Labs, are investigating how the car company can reduce the risk of supply disruptions that delay entire product lines.

Car companies embrace quantum computers

Honeywell System Model H1 spectrometer subcomponent
Honeywell System Model H1 spectrometer subcomponent – Honeywell

BMW is using a Honeywell System Model H1 quantum computer, first launched in late October, 2020. It relies on 10 connected qubits with a coherence period of seconds, due to the company's trapped-ion technology. That differs from approaches by Google, IBM, Intel, IonQ, and others, who all use competing methods to run and cool their systems.

“We are quickly moving from benchmarking and double-checking data generated on quantum systems and algorithms to being able to tackle real-world, enterprise-level problems such as global supply chains,” Honeywell Quantum Solutions president Tony Uttley said.

Automotive companies, with lengthy supply chains and complex autonomous ambitions, have been one of the first to turn to the still-nascent quantum computing field.

In 2017, Volkswagen said that it would use D-Wave systems to calculate traffic flow, and partnered with Google to use its quantum computer to research new materials, and later joined AWS Braket. Also in 2017, Daimler and Honda signed on as the first clients of IBM's Q quantum computing cloud.

“The BMW Group is always exploring new technologies to further enhance our operations,” said Julius Marcea, head of IT at BMW Group.

“We are excited to investigate the transformative potential of quantum computing on the automotive industry and are committed to extending the limits of engineering performance."