What Will Be the Very First Real World Applications for Quantum Annealers?

We expect to see the very first real world production applications for quantum computing to go live within the next year. Some might argue that the economic benefits of using quantum instead of classical technologies for some of these applications are marginal at best.  They may also say that the organizations are just doing this to be one of the cool early adopters and grab bragging rights for being on the leading edge.  Nonetheless, we expect these first applications to be harbingers of more applications to come and that the organizations working on them will gain valuable experience that will be invaluable as more powerful quantum computers are introduced.

So let’s start listing some of the potential candidates started with quantum annealing applications being developed on the D-Wave machine. D-Wave has been offering access to their machines since 2011 starting with their 128 qubit D-Wave One.  Their current offering is the 2048 qubit D-Wave 2000Q and they have an improved architecture they call Pegasus in development.  Their largest Pegasus machine is expected to be introduced in 2020 and include up to 5640 qubits, but there might be an intermediate sized versions before then with 3000 or so qubits. D-Wave has installed machines at a handful of customer sites, but we believe that most of the organizations developing applications to run on the machines are accessing them over the cloud using a bank of machines at D-Wave headquarters.

D-Wave has been very active in establishing training, user groups and business development in order to attract potential users to consider using their machines.  They have said that their users have already developed over 150 demonstration applications and that a few of them may be ready for early production in 2019.  Specifically, three applications mentioned in a recent presentation are:

• DENSO – better routing of Autonomously Guided Vehicles (AGV’s) in factory
• Recruit Communications – hotel recommendation service
• VW – personalized transportation optimization application in Lisbon

All of these are forms of bounded, optimization problems that demonstrate some quantum acceleration and are well suited to the D-Wave quantum annealing architecture. So because of D-Wave’s head start, we expect the first real world applications to use a quantum computer in a production mode will likely be on one of their machines.

July 30, 2019

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