Japan businesses putting quantum technology to practical use

Japanese businesses are increasingly finding practical applications for quantum technology from worker shift-scheduling to railway operations.

Electronics and other firms have been engaged in research into quantum computers, which would vastly surpass the calculating power of supercomputers.

They are now trying to make actual use of the quantum technologies developed during the research process.

Industrial conglomerate Hitachi has created a system that can automatically assign shifts to more than 100 workers, reflecting their various work hours, plans for days off and the number of workers needed for each shift.

Officials say it took over 11 hours for humans to create such a schedule, but the system does it in less than half that time.

They say they hope to put it into practical use in fiscal 2023 or later.

Hitachi researcher Yamamoto Keisuke says he hopes the system will be applied to a wide range of sectors, including finance, manufacturing and railways.

Technology giant Fujitsu says that later this year it plans to start using an actual quantum computer developed with the Riken research institute. The firm says it will let businesses use the machine for research purposes.

It would take quantum computers only a few minutes to complete calculations for which existing supercomputers would require 10,000 years.

The Japanese government has set a goal of increasing the number of users of quantum technology-related services to 10 million in 2030.