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Quantum Technology Challenge 2023 (QTC2023)
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Quantum technologies exploit the fundamental laws of nature to reach the ultimate limits of sensing, imaging, communications and computing. They are diverse, complex, and generally early in technical readiness and demand new ways of thinking about the employment and exploitation of technology. Their true capabilities, limitations and most disruptive applications are still being discovered. This combination of disruptive potential, ambiguity and complexity presents both strategic risks and opportunities to land forces. As a result, the Australian Army finds itself in an accelerating global competition to understand, co-develop and exploit quantum technologies in land operations.
The emergence of quantum technology is part of a larger transformation of warfare, where geopolitics, demographics and technology are driving changes in the character of warfare at a rate faster than which many of Army’s processes, concepts, capabilities and structures are designed. Army has termed this change Accelerated Warfare and has mounted the strategic response: Army in Motion. Army has identified that the emergence of quantum technologies will impact two of the major technological drivers of Accelerated Warfare: robotics and autonomous systems, and cyber and information warfare.
In response, Army released the Army Quantum Technology Roadmap. The Roadmap articulates Army’s plan to leverage Australia’s national strategic strength in quantum technology research, its emerging quantum industry and cooperation with aligned nations, to gain and retain an early quantum advantage.
The Department of Defence via the Australian Army and the Land Capability Division (Defence) is seeking proposals that will demonstrate solutions to The Challenge (defined below) at the Quantum Technology Challenge 2023 (QTC2023), scheduled to be held on 29-30 August 2023 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. This date and location may change in response to COVID-19 travel restrictions and Defence suitability requirements.
In this Challenge, Defence wishes to test:
• how quantum computers may be disrupteded in order to assess their vulnerability and understand how they may be protected
• if networking quantum sensors via quantum communications can enhance their use in subterranean sensing and imaging, and the locating of electromagnetic emitters
• if quantum sensors can enhance the monitoring of complex land systems for better failure avoidance, compliance and performance.
The following three sub-themes define specific examples of the above in land operations. These examples have been chosen because they are both sufficiently specific and tangible for respondents to make appropriate assumptions and produce meaningful results, whilst also being generalisable to other situations and tasks in land operations.
Proposals must directly address one of the sub-themes.
Sub-theme 1: Disruption of quantum computers
Context: For Army, it is critical that its computing technologies are reliable and resilient, and that Army understands how to detect, identify and defence against attacks to its computing capabilities.
In this emergent phase of quantum computing, it is thus important for Army to answers the questions: How can one destroy, disable or degrade a quantum computer or deceive its users without direct physical interference? What type of access to the computer's software systems would you require to conduct the attack? How could such an attack be detected and prevented? What would be the effect of the attack?
Task: For a given level of attack (destroy/disable/degrade/deceive), Army is seeking to understand the attack that requires the simplest access, is most difficult to detect and has the maximum effect. Teams need only develop and assess an attack at one level.
Teams are to use simulation to demonstrate their attack and its detection and prevention. Note that teams are not to perform attacks on third-party hardware or operational software systems.
Sub-theme 2: Quantum networking for enhanced sensing and imaging
Context: Through QTC21 and QTC22, Army has already identified promising applications of classical networks of quantum sensors in subterranean imaging and locating of electromagnetic emitters in the battlespace. Through the direct exchange of quantum information between the sensors, quantum communications may offer further performance gains or alternate functionality of quantum sensors in those applications.
Thus, motivating the question: How can quantum communications be used to network quantum sensors together to enhance their sensitivity, reveal more information or image larger areas in either subterranean imaging or the locating of electromagnetic emitters in the battlespace?
Task: Teams are to answer this question by demonstrating quantum networked-quantum sensing relevant to either application (through simulation or experiment) and identifying the key advantages and disadvantages of employing the quantum network. Teams should refer to the subterranean imaging and emitter locating challenges of QTC21 and QTC22, respectively, to understand those applications and associated technologies in greater detail. However, teams are not restricted to the sensing technologies that participated in those challenges.
Sub-theme 3: Systems monitoring using quantum sensors for failure avoidance, compliance and performance enhancement
Context: Army has numerous, diverse and complex electrical, mechanical and optical systems that must function reliably and with high performance in difficult environments. Army must also meet demanding regulations in maintaining and operating these systems. As such, Army is always seeking technologies that assist with the monitoring of its systems.
This motivates the question: How can quantum sensors enable more precise, ubiquitous, complete or efficient means to monitor Army's complex vehicles, equipment and weapons, so that Army can more accurately and readily detect and avoid failure, comply with regulations or achieve higher performance?
Task: Teams are to address this question by demonstrating the application of quantum sensors (via simulation or experiment) to monitoring of systems relevant to Army and identifying the key advantages and disadvantages of the quantum sensors compared to existing technologies.
Overview of CFS Process
Important: Please note that this is an overview only. Full details of the CFS process are set out in the CFS Terms and the Deed of Participation.
The CFS competitive selection process is as follows:
• Applicants are to submit a short written proposal using the format dictated in Annex A. Proposals that do not adhere to this format may not be considered.
• After assessing the written proposals, Defence may select a shortlist of applicants to progress to interview.
• In the interview, applicants will pitch their proposal and discuss it with Defence representatives. An indication of how the interviews will be conducted is contained in Annex B. Applicants who are not available for interview during the nominated period may not be considered further.
• Following the interviews: Defence may select approximately six proposals and invite them to enter into a simple contract arrangement to enable the selected applicants to demonstrate their solution and deliver a solution report, presentation and pitch at QTC2023 on a funded basis. The requirements of the demonstration, report and presentation are detailed in Annex C.
• Defence acknowledges the low technical readiness of some quantum technologies, and is therefore amenable to demonstrations that primarily use simulation and/or early prototype devices in simulated environments.
Potential applicants are encouraged to respond to this CFS only if their solution can reasonably be expected to be ready for demonstration at QTC2023. Where this is not the case, an innovation submission can be made through the Defence Innovation Hub (DIH) portal as an unsolicited innovation proposal - Priority Innovation Notice at the following link: https://www.innovationhub.defence.gov.au/call-for-submissions/. Proposals submitted through this method at the DIH are less time constrained than time sensitive QTC2023 submissions.
You must submit a response to this CFS using (AusTender reference 32883) on AusTender by 12:00 noon (local time in the Australian Capital Territory) on 04 April 2023.
Technical Readiness Levels
Defence may consider proposals based on technologies that are immature i.e. at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3-4, or mature technologies which are applied in new initiatives through quantum Proposals based upon technologies above TRL 5 will not be assessed in accordance with Clause 3.4(k) of the CFS Terms. Defence is particularly seeking proposals based upon technologies that, with appropriate funding, can be progressed to TRL 5-6 within 12 to 18 months following the QTC2023. However, this is not a requirement for application.
The Call for Submissions (CFS) competitive selection process is as follows:
a. Applicants are to submit a short written proposal in response to the requirements outlined in the Challenge Statement;
b. After assessing the written proposals, Defence may select a shortlist of applicants to progress to interview;
c. In the interview, applicants may pitch their proposal and discuss it with Defence representatives;
d. Following the interviews, Defence may select approximately six applicants and invite them to enter into a simple contract (AUSDEFCON Short Services) for them to provide a concept demonstration of their solution, to deliver a solution report and to participate in a question and answer session on their proposal at QTC2023, on a funded basis; Further detail on the process is available in the Challenge Statement and Deed of Participation.
Submissions are open to Australian permanent residents or citizens only, who must hold an ABN.
By making a submission, you acknowledge that if you are successful, you will be required to agree to terms and conditions that govern the QTC2023 event. As part of your response to the CFS you will be procured to attend and participate in the QTC2023 event. These terms have the following key features:
a. you must not materially alter your proposed Quantum Technology concept from that described in your submission;
b. you will attend and participate in the QTC2023 event at your own risk;
c. of any funding provided by Defence under contract for QTC2023, no more than $5,000 including GST may be spent on event attendance costs;
d. you will be required to attend event briefings and comply with all Defence safety and security requirements;
e. you will be required to obtain, at your own cost, all necessary approvals, licences or permits required to attend the QTC2023 event before the date you will be expected to participate in QTC2023;
f. you must fully disclose to Defence if any technology or equipment includes problematic substances, problematic sources or dangerous equipment or material before any such equipment is brought to the QTC2023 event;
g. you will be responsible for removing all equipment, technology, rubbish and other items you bring after the completion of your involvement in the QTC2023 event; and
h. you will be required to participate in the QTC2023 event in a co-operative and collaborative manner and to comply with all reasonable directions given by Defence in relation to QTC2023. Participants must not act in a manner that would bring Defence into disrepute.
Under contract from April 2023 for all deliverables complete at the QTC2023, likely August 2023.