top of page

〔Quantum Sky] The true faces of the challengers - Tohoku University

Hello, this is Hosoda!

I interviewed Mr. Ozeki and Mr. Haba from Tohoku University, who are central figures of verifying the technology for this demonstration experiment.



Tohoku University: The leading university of industry-academia collaboration

Tohoku University, which ranks first in the Japanese version of THE World University Rankings for two consecutive years, is working to develop a vision for students and young researchers, especially in the field of quantum annealing (an algorithm specialized for optimization in quantum computers), and to create industries.

As a place to support basic research and social implementation, the Quantum Computing Joint Research Course (T-STARS) will be launched in December 2020 and guest professors have been invited from companies such as Kyocera, Denso, and Sumitomo Corporation. Quantum Sky project is also being demonstrated within the framework of this course.

Masayuki Ohzeki: Passionate YouTuber whose love for quantum is the deepest of all

Professor, Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University

Professor, Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Known as the world's top runner in the quantum annealing industry, he is involved in the founding of two quantum tech-startups and is seeking a new style of industry-university collaboration. His recent publications include "Introduction to Machine Learning with Python: From Deep Learning to Adversarial Generative Networks" and "Quantum Computers Change the Future".

In his current YouTube workshop, backed by his unbounded enthusiasm, he picks up all the questions and comments from the participants, and there are sessions when the 1.5 hours session goes over 7 hours. Regularly around 1,500 people whose ages and professions are quite broad and some even take paid holidays to attend.

Rennichiro Haba: "A student innovator who is eager to change the common sense with technology

Second-year master's student at the Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University

Despite being a student, he leads joint demonstrations with companies and is also involved in the project of Sigma-i Co. Ltd, a quantum tech-startup.

“I wanted to see what Haba would do in the society when I gave him the ability to be a researcher," said Professor Ohzeki. Haba's enthusiasm “charm” even Professor Ohzeki.


○Student Haba leads the Quantum Sky project

--Can you tell us your role in the Quantum Sky project?

Haba: " Realizing a world with hundreds of thousands of air mobilities in 203x using Quantum Computer, Mr. Daniel Honaker of OneSky and I from Tohoku University are taking the lead in incorporating the vision into the system. In particular, I am in charge of demonstrating the implementation of quantum annealing and installation of that into the OneSky system.

I had been working on the upgrading of Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) route optimization in factories (conducted by Denso and Tohoku University). I presided over the entire process such as setting up the problem, simulating it in Python and demonstrating it on a D-Wave machine (a dedicated quantum annealing machine provided by D-Wave Systems in Canada), and published the results at the Physical Society of Japan and QUANTUM COMPUTING EXPO TOKYO Spring this year. I was not able to attain this without the cooperation of Professor Ohzeki as well as the other members in the laboratory.


In a world where myriads of air mobility vehicles are flying around, besides horizontal path, we also need to consider the level of height. Finally, it results in three-dimensional path optimization. It may sound simple, but there are still many challenges. How to operate a large number of vehicles without delays while ensuring safety? And how do we consider Skyport availability at the same time? It's hard to set a big problem from the beggining, so we start with small problems and build them up bit by bit to determine what's really needed. In the end, we would like to incorporate it into the OneSky system and demonstrate it.

The OneSky Universal Drone Registration System

○Creating social value through quantum technology

--It's staggering for me one person can go through the whole process of discovering and demonstrating a problem. I had a strong image of university researchers pursuing their major.

Haba: "Of course, it's important to pursue your research. However, if that is all you do, you will not be able to disseminate the value of the technology to the world. To propose value, I try to work on areas close to the users.

--"It's wonderful that you have such a broad perspective as a student.

Haba: "I actually have strong ambitions for the way I conduct my research. I wanted to do something that would change society.

When I was a child, I used to go to the rental store in the next town over.

Then NetFlix has changed the world wholly. People who used to rent DVDs didn't feel much inconvenience. In fact, however, there was a lot of unnecessary travels and potential inconveniences there. In the future, I would like to use technologies to solve latent inconveniences that have not yet been detected. Especially quantum technology. It's really hard to imagine what will happen, but I'm sure something great will happen. Developing technologies is not the goal, I want to do something beneficial for the world with them. In that sense, I'm so excited about the Quantum Sky project, which is a collaboration between companies.

Ohzeki: "His passion is simply amazing. That's why I'd like him to spearhead this project and gain experience. In reality, it is quite challenging to get students to stand in the front. However, when I saw how he stood up to companies and made proposals, I made a decision. I let him take on more and bigger challenges, and he got hooked.

Terabe: "Thanks to Haba's contribution, always our meetings with OneSky are high-spirited, isn't it? Haba made various suggestions and proposed novel tools to share thoughts firmly. Now he has a lot of trust from OneSky members, and he's become the lead of the project.

○Quantum and sky meet.

--Can you tell us the Quantum Sky project?

Haba: "First of all, the mere mention of air mobility is enough to tickle a man's fancy (laughs). This exciting vision of the future is grandiose, but I'd like to spread it to the world by showing it in concrete form little by little. As a result, I hope to bring it closer to the reality.

Ohzeki: "There's a sense of excitement that this is going to change the view, isn't there? It's like the Pope's mass is now surrounded by people with smartphones. I've done a lot of demonstrations so far, and I feel that in order to create a future with a completely different landscape, I need to work with my colleagues like turning Othello upside down. The various demonstrations of quantum annealing are still in a quantum state where black and white are superimposed (laughs).

-- "So, there are experts in the field of air mobility and others in quantum technology, and this project is being undertaken by such a variety of people.

Terabe: "Looking at the world of air mobility alone, there are countless stumbling blocks to overcome before flying and starting services, so it was difficult to envision the world beyond that. However, ideas from different realms have made it possible to do so in 203x. If we can get more and more people from different fields to join us, I'm sure it will turn into a new approach.

Haba: "It's a challenge to create an unimaginable world, isn't it? It would be great if more people would take an interest in this project and work together with us."


How was it?

The Quantum Sky project is a whirlpool of enthusiasm led by Haba. I have high hopes for the future of this project. If you are interested in this activity or the efforts of Tohoku University, please contact us. The road to the future begins with your first step.

Next time: The final installment.

It will be an interview with OneSky, a developer of unmanned aircraft control systems.

292 views0 comments


bottom of page