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Pasqal, Thales, French agencies team up on aerospace and defense project

By Dan O'Shea posted 17 Dec 2021

French quantum computing start-up Pasqal has been busy of late, working with Nvidia among other things. This week the company announced a multi-year partnership with aerospace and defense systems firms Thales, the Paris Regional Authority and French government research agency GENCI to work on new methods to address planning and scheduling challenges related to the optimization of critical systems through Pasqal’s quantum processor.

The aim is to use Pasqal’s 100+-qubit processor to solve planning and scheduling challenges that often crop up application arenas such as logistics, air traffic control, industrial automation, resource allocation and disaster recovery assistance. The intricacy and processing times involved in addressing sizable problems in these areas have proven too much for most classical computing systems to tackle, but the partners are hoping to prove that quantum can do it and at scale.

This is just the latest move by Pasqal in the aerospace and defense sector. The company last month announced a partnership with MBDA, another company in that industry, as it looks to address a space where there could be many near-term opportunities for quantum firms.

The new project is supported by the PAck Quantique program (PAQ), an initiative launched in 2020 by the Paris Regional Authority, GENCI and Le Lab Quantique. The initiative aims to accelerate the development of the quantum technologies industry in greater Paris and create synergies between industrial groups and start-ups, the partners said in a statement from Pasqal.

Entirely a French project, the program is intended to bolster the leadership of Paris and France in the field of quantum computing and improve the competitiveness of French stakeholders in the industry at an international level, the partners said. The program also aims at highlighting the Parisian hub’s dynamism and attractiveness to encourage new companies to join the ecosystem.

“Thales is fully committed to developing quantum technologies, in particular for quantum sensors and quantum communications, that will provide a real breakthrough for many Thales’ sectors of activity,” said Bernhard Quendt, SVP Group Chief Technical Officer, Thales. “The partnership with Pasqal, GENCI and the Paris Regional Authority gives us the opportunity to explore yet another important facet of quantum: quantum computing. Of particular importance is that, together we will be able to design and solve optimization problems related to real use cases of high importance for our customers, such as air traffic optimization or space mission scheduling to name a few.”

“…The techniques we will develop through this collaboration will be useful for various fields relevant to Thales’ operational activities,” said Georges-Olivier Reymond, CEO of Pasqal. “Creating value for end-users is a main focus for Pasqal. We continue to develop our technology, both hardware and software, to best answer the needs of our partners and solve any bottlenecks or problems we can for them. We are working hand in hand with our partners: Thales, GENCI and the Paris Regional Authority to build a leading Quantum industry in the area.”

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