The Qubit Report met up with the President of Honeywell Quantum Solutions, Mr. Tony Uttley, at the conclusion of Quantum.Tech 21. Uttley presented the efforts which have brought Honeywell to the quantum computing forefront and the strategy being executed to keep the 130-years strong technology leader firmly in place. There remained several questions we thought we would seek answers to.
So, here’s the “Qubit 3”.
Qubit’s Question #1: “Why do we need quantum computers?”
Mr. Uttley’s response, thoughtful and with foresight, focused on the human condition. “Humanity needs it…” he stated unequivocally. Everything from climate change, to pandemics, food scarcity and logistics were characterized as reasons to need quantum computers. We have classical systems that can answer many of the needs in each of these areas but a quantum computer can bring solutions that much quicker.
Food scarcity was a new application for quantum computing The Qubit Report had not come across. Effectively, food scarcity is a logistics problem which is an ideal use for near-term quantum computers. Globally, the amount of food waste is about 30% per day, Uttley conveyed. It is a “logistics problem involving spoilage, transport, and other variables” conceivably solved by quantum computers. For the human condition, solving food scarcity would be an obvious win.
Honeywell sees this and many other issues as solvable, at least in part, by their trapped ion quantum computing systems.
Qubit’s Question #2: “So, why trapped ions?”
“Trapped ions have the best fidelity”, the Ytterbium ions specifically. Mr. Uttley continued, delighted to explain Ytterbium ions are identical by nature ergo any error found is attributable to errors induced by the environment in which the trapped ions are performing.
If a Ytterbium qubit loses its state, it’s our fault. We (Honeywell) remove a large variable from the equation by using Ytterbium ions. In doing so, Honeywell is able to more readily isolate the root-cause of errors in quantum bits, a key component in a quantum computer’s success.
This is where Honeywell’s quantum charged coupled device, or QCCD, enters the scene. This architecture permits scientists to physically move qubits, take measurements, isolate qubits, and perform conditional logic with the qubit, reassigning its tasks. In doing so, Honeywell is capable of error-correction of qubits during execution which translates into better computing performance.
“To get to error-correction, you need in-circuit measurement, conditional logic, and rounds of syndrome extraction” (measure, measure error, correct error, repeat). “We can do this today“.
Mr. Tony Uttley, President, Honeywell Quantum Solutions
Qubit’s Question #3: “Why was Honeywell so quiet about their quantum computing development program?”
“Strategy…” is one word to sum up the President of Honeywell Quantum Solutions answer. Uttley explained the underlying technologies existed within the Honeywell proprietary system. Technologies and expertise in photonics, cryogenic cooling, and RF (radio frequency) capabilities are well-known to be in the Honeywell wheelhouse.
“Honeywell already had these”, Mr. Uttley states with surety. “The physics problems are solved, what’s left are the engineering problems, the control problems”, he continued with confidence in Honeywell’s ability to find complete solutions.
Therefore, they could do much of the work in-house and present the product when it was sufficiently capable of providing value to customers.
“Honeywell already had these”, Uttley stated with surety. “The physics problems are solved, what’s left are the engineering problems, the control problems”, he continued with confidence in Honeywell’s ability to find complete solutions.
Currently, the strategy and execution is panning out, with notable milestones for each of the next iterations of the Honeywell System Model H0 and System Model H1 having been achieved in 2020. By 2030, System Model H5 is anticipated to have been delivered to customers.