Volkswagen Group and Google collaborate on quantum computers
At the technology conference, Web Summit 2017, the Volkswagen Group and Google announced comprehensive research cooperation in the field of quantum computing. The two companies will explore the use 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. Volkswagen Group IT wants to make progress in three development areas: 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 (AI) with new machine learning processes.
Martin Hofmann, Chief Information Officer of the Volkswagen Group, said, “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, commented, “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 practical 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 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 and 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 plans 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 a research project that they have successfully completed, and will consider other variables in addition to reducing travel times. These include urban traffic guidance systems, available electric charging stations, and 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. This approach is expected 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 claims to be the first automotive company 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. CODE stands for “continuous optimization and digital engineering.” The team is comprised 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.