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Automakers Venture into Advanced Super Computing

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May 26, 2020—Quantum computing has been used to spur breakthroughs in machine learning methods to diagnose illnesses and medications to save lives. They're much more powerful than current computers and operate at temperatures close to absolute zero.

For example, quantum-computing vendor D-Wave Systems Inc gave researchers and companies studying the coronavirus access to its early-stage, experimental machines over the cloud. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company assembled a team of experts from about a dozen universities and companies including Volkswagen, Denso and startup Menten AI who are familiar with its quantum-computing services to help interested researchers program the computers.

Recently and before the coronavirus pandemic, Ford and Microsoft sought to leverage quantum computing to reduce traffic jams in Seattle.

When used, Ford's approach to reducing traffic jams, improved congestion by 73 percent and average commuting time dropped 8 percent.

Volkswagen and Daimler have also dabbled with quantum computing since 2019 as well. Volkswagen unveiled the first production use of a quantum computer at the 2019 WebSummit in Lisbon. The mobile app predicts the best route to any destination. 

Through the use of the computing, the automaker started looking into how it could affect the production of self-driving cars, assembly lines at vehicle plants and cybersecurity threat detection. 

If more automakers look into quantum computing, traffic route optimization can be more common and ultimately lead to fewer collisions on the road. This means that not only will vehicles be equipped with another type of technology for consumers, but it could reduce the number of accidents on roads.

What is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing leverages mechanical phenomena  such as superposition and entanglement to perform computation.

While modern computers translate information into bits — either a 1 or a 0 — a quantum computer can translate information into a 1, 0, and somewhere in between, meaning a lot more information can be stored and processed on a single quantum bit, according to Axios.

Inside Volkswagen's Quantum Computing Project

The traffic management system includes passenger number prediction and route optimization by quantum computing.

For the pilot project in Lisbon, 26 stops were selected and connected to form four bus links.

The Volkswagen team developed a quantum algorithm for route optimization between the stops. This algorithm calculates the fastest route for each individual bus in the fleet and optimizes it almost on a real-time basis. The algorithm assigns each bus an individual route. This way, each bus can drive around traffic bottlenecks along the route at an early stage and avoid traffic jams before they even arise.

Inside Daimler's Quantum Computing Endeavor

Daimler started a quantum computing project with Google in 2018 and grew it in a year. In some cases, simulated proof-of-concept (POC) solutions have already been developed with the research partners, according to the automaker.

Daimler also partnered with IBM to use quantum computing to improve the speed of charging and capacity of electric vehicle batteries. The computing method was used to model the dipole moment of three lithium-containing molecules or in other words, simulate the fundamental behaviors of compounds in batteries. This brings the two companies closer to the next-generation lithium sulfur (Li-S) batteries.





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