Volkswagen and Google to collaborate on Quantum Computing for improved cars and driving
By: +David Herron; Date: November 7, 2017
Volkswagen and Google are announcing a plan to do some kind of research using Quantum Computing. The focus of the research is said to be "traffic optimization" meaning aids to drivers navigating through cities, "high-performance batteries" meaning using computing resources to guide R&D of high performance battery materials, and "machine learning" as applied to the artificial intelligence required for autonomous driving. It's not clear from the press release how "Quantum Computing" is used in relation to this sort of research. Each of those tasks does require extremely high computational capabilities, and perhaps the team is looking to quantum computing to implement super-computer capabilities within the space constraints of a family car. The autonomous cars I've seen were dominated by the computing equipment being carried on-board, which obviously would be unacceptable for a regular car, meaning that some kind of magic computational wizardry will be required to shrink the enormous computational requirements into a tiny box.
Volkswagen had previously used a Quantum Computer for traffic optimization of 10,000 taxi's in Beijing, China. The are looking at the Google universal quantum computer and are looking to develop algorithms to optimize travel times across an entire city, as well as assigning access to charging stations and parking spots. With such a system, traffic in a city could automatically route around major events, optimize the flow of traffic, and eliminate traffic congestion.
Another development area concerns developing chemical structures in advanced batteries. Computationally designing battery chemistry could conceivably lead to better designs with optimum weight/performance ratios for various target scenarios.
The last area of effort, machine learning, is rather general. The phrase refers to the capability of a program (or system) to link data, analyze relationships and make predictions on this basis. Machine learning is widely used in modern artificial intelligence techniques. Advanced AI systems are a prerequisite for advanced autonomous driving capabilities.
- The companies intend to build up specialist knowledge together and to carry out practically oriented research
- Volkswagen Group IT is launching quantum computing in three development areas on a Google quantum computer
- Further development of traffic optimization, material simulations especially for high-performance batteries for electric vehicles and new materials, and new machine learning processes
Wolfsburg/Mountain View/Lisbon, November 7, 2017. At the technology conference “Web Summit 2017” (Lisbon), the Volkswagen Group and Google today announced comprehensive research cooperation in the field of quantum computing. The two companies will explore the utilization of quantum computers together, with aims to build up specialist knowledge and to carry out practically oriented research. As part of this collaboration, a team of specialists from Volkswagen and Google will work together using a Google quantum computer. Quantum computers can solve certain highly complex tasks considerably faster than conventional supercomputers. In some cases, a solution will only be possible with quantum computers.
Volkswagen Group IT wants to make progress in three development areas on the Google quantum computer. The specialists intend to continue the development of traffic optimization, to explore structures for new materials, especially high-performance batteries for electric vehicles, and to work on artificial intelligence with new machine learning processes.
Martin Hofmann, Chief Information Officer of the Volkswagen Group, says: “Quantum computing technology opens up new dimensions and represents the fast-track for future-oriented topics. We at Volkswagen want to be among the first to use quantum computing for corporate processes as soon as this technology is commercially available. Thanks to our cooperation with Google, we have taken a major step towards this goal.”
Hartmut Neven, Director of the Google Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, says: “Volkswagen has enormous expertise in solving important, real-world engineering problems, and it is an honor for us to collaborate on how quantum computing may be able to make a difference in the automotive industry.”
This collaboration will focus on research for practically applications. Specialists from the Volkswagen Information Technology Centers (IT labs) in San Francisco and Munich will develop algorithms, simulations and optimizations together with the Google experts. They will carry out this work using Google universal quantum computers. This architecture is suitable for many experimental computing operations.
“Volkswagen’s collaboration with Google marks the beginning of quantum computing in the automotive industry, and is a paramount step to addressing modern mobility challenges unlikely to be solved with binary digital electronic computers,” said Abdallah Shanti, Executive Vice President and Group Chief Information & Digital Officer for Region Americas, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “Through this partnership, Volkswagen intends to unlock the potential of this technology, and share our learnings to motivate the development of quantum computers and algorithms.”
Volkswagen Group IT development areas
Volkswagen Group IT intends to explore the potential of this quantum computer in several different areas. In the first project, the Volkswagen specialists are working on the further development of traffic optimization. They are building on the research project which they have already successfully completed and now want to consider additional variables in addition to reducing travelling times. These include urban traffic guidance systems, available electric charging stations or vacant parking spaces.
In a second project, the Volkswagen specialists aim to simulate and optimize the structure of high-performance batteries for electric vehicles and other materials. Volkswagen Group Research and Development experts expect this approach to provide new information for vehicle construction and battery research.
A third project concerns the development of new machine learning processes. Machine learning is a key technology for the development of advanced AI systems, which are a prerequisite for autonomous driving.
The Volkswagen Group is the first automotive company in the world to work intensively on quantum computing technology. In March 2017, Volkswagen announced its first successful research project completed on a quantum computer: a traffic flow optimization for 10.000 taxis in the Chinese capital Beijing.
Volkswagen Group Information Technology & Services, Region Americas has been running an innovation team at its CODE office in San Francisco since 2013. The acronym CODE stands for Continuous Optimization and Digital Engineering. The team is made-up of Software Architects, Engineers, Data Scientists, and Researchers who work on a broad scale of tasks: from advanced Multi-Cloud computing automation, DevOps, Mobile Applications and Mobility Solutions to Data Science and Quantum Computing topics. As Volkswagen recognizes the importance of advanced technology and how it shapes modern society, the CODE team continues to push the threshold of what business may achieve through digital technology.