Air cargo load optimisation leveraged by quantum computing

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Software company Quantum-South is looking for air cargo partners in a proofs of concept (PoC) for its solution to optimise cargo loading in aircraft.

The quantum computing based application has already been tested on platforms of different quantum computing providers.

Quantum-South’s team has been working in container load optimisation for air cargo since the Airbus Quantum Computing Challenge in 2019 where it became one of the global finalists.

Airbus has identified this problem as one of the most challenging in the aerospace industry.

Quantum-South said in a statement: “Basically, the problem can be stated as determining the optimal loading strategy for packing merchandise in aircrafts, aiming to find the optimal configuration of maximizing the loading subject to appropriate constraints. Quantum-South developments have been focused on using quantum algorithms to address the problem.

“The problem addresses a number of packages to be transported with the objective to identify the optimal selection of the ones that maximizes the profit associated to the unit loading devices (ULDs) while respecting restrictions, such as maximum weight and length, centre of gravity, shear, and the shape of the fuselage.

“Given the exponential increase in the number of possible combinations as the number of packages increases, the problem poses a serious challenge to be solved by classical means.”

The air cargo optimisation software is now ready for a PoC in a real business scenario, involving air cargo operations, using determined source-destination locations with an interesting complexity and a particular aircraft freighter model.

The source-destination locations can have multiple weekly flights for the same freighter where containers of different nature and priority could be arranged.

Quantum-South added that the software is flexible to air cargo scenarios as it can be adapted to business requirements/restrictions and incorporated in the optimisation criteria.

It can be applied to any model of cargo aircraft and can be extended to loading of passenger aircraft.

The statement added: “The idea of the algorithm is to load the aircraft maximizing the profit associated to the ULDs while respecting restrictions, such as maximum weight and length, centre of gravity, shear and the shape of the fuselage.

“Optimising the location of the centre of mass has a significant impact on fuel consumption and environmental protection.”

The software supports two decks to fill with ULDs. All the restrictions such as maximum weight and volume, centre of gravity and shear are implemented taking into consideration the main and lower decks.

The ULD picking list is composed of ULD of industry standard sizes, both containers and pallets. Each aircraft type, depending on the size of its fuselage, may carry a different subset of ULDs.

“In general, the subset of ULDs of its two decks (main deck and lower deck is disjoint given the differences in capacity). Finally, there are ULDs that can go in only one position on each deck, while others accept multiple configurations.”

Founded in 2019, Quantum-South works with complex optimisation problems for cargo in airlines and ships leveraging quantum computing software. Quantum South was founded in the University of Montevideo and is the first quantum start-up in Latin America.

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