Chinese companies are getting serious about quantum computing. After Alibaba launched a quantum computer in 2018, other Chinese companies were under pressure to do research of their own. Both Baidu and Tencent followed up the Alibaba launch by announcing the development of their own quantum research departments. Tencent had its first US application for quantum technology in January 2021, while Baidu had its first US application publish in April 2021. However, don’t let its seemingly late entrance fool you, Baidu is serious.
While only a single US application has published thus far, there are signs that many more applications may have been filed. The published US application claims priority to Chinese Application No. 110738320, which was the first application that Baidu filed for quantum technology in China. If this recent publication merely marks the beginning of a wave of Baidu applications in the US corresponding to its Chinese applications, it is likely to become a formidable force in the sector, as it has over 30 filings in China for quantum technology since October 2019. As an indicator to see whether these filings are coming, Patent Forecast® will be watching for a US Application corresponding to Chinese Application No. 110738321, which was filed shortly after its first application.
The type of technology claimed in the Baidu application is also interesting. Baidu claims a superconducting circuit with two qubits coupled in a particular. That signals that Baidu isn’t merely developing quantum software and planning on leveraging the hardware of other companies: it’s building its own. Baidu’s initial focus on hardware likely comes as a surprise to those following its press releases so far. Baidu announced in September 2020 that it was launching QuantumLeaf, which provides simulation of quantum architecture for programmers. Baidu even provided an image of the architecture (seen below), which doesn’t show its own hardware as being part of the system, and suggests working with third party providers. It’s safe to assume Baidu has bigger plans than QuantumLeaf, but what form those plans will take remains to be seen.
For updates on Baidu’s quantum computing developments, follow the Quantum Computing Patent Forecast®!
Quantum computing is the use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform computation.