Volkswagen Announces Bringing Quantum Computers To Automotive Factories
Volkswagen Group has been aiming to be a leader in the Quantum Computer realm since 2016, now they aim to leave the research phase
by Percy Bolmér, August 28, 2021
Quantum Computing has been a science fiction idea since I was a small kid; I’ve read about it, as many others, thinking that it is a technology for the distant future. In recent years there has been many companies investing time and money in becoming the leaders in Quantum Computing. The reasons are clear, not only will it take technology light steps ahead, but there is also probably a big chunk of money to claim being the first to release applications that leverage Quantum Computing.
If you’re not familiar with Quantum Computing here is how Microsoft defines it
Quantum computers harness the unique behavior of quantum physics — such as superposition, entanglement, and quantum interference — and apply it to computing. — Microsoft
Often the benefits around quantum computing is related to the massive speed gains there is to leverage, making it possible to solve harder and bigger problems using technology. A really good example of how quantum computers would be superior to a binary based super computer in modern technology is Grovers Alghorithm. Imagine if you have a list of X amount of items, say 100000 items. The task is to find a certain item in that list, a classical binary computer would statistically need to examine X/2 items. While a quantum computer could find the item in √x.
That means the binary computer needs to examine 50000 items, while the quantum computer would need 316,2278 items. Now image if the time per iteration was 10 milliseconds, I don’t know the proper iteration speed on a modern super computer, so let’s imagine.
That would leave the binary computer at 8.33333333 minutes, and the quantum computer at 3.162278 seconds. That is quiet a large performance boost.
Quantum computing has a few areas where we hopefully can see improvements when the area is more mature.
For instance Cryptography is a well discussed area. The cryptographic algorithms used in modern secure communications are very hard to decrypt for a regular computer, but for a Quantum computer this task could become trivial. Another area is Pattern matching which can be applied in many areas, for instance Volkswagen is trying to figure out how to avoid traffic jams, even ahead of time.
Enough of the quantum lesson, you came for the Volkswagen news right?
Volkswagen announcement on 2021–08–18
Volkswagen posted on an article on their website a blog article about how they now are pushing to start leaving the research area of quantum computing and move the research into their factories. In the article they interview the lead data scientist in Volkswagen Group of America, David Von Dollen.
What’s amazing about this is that they actually have come so far in the research that it is ready for production it seems.
Volkswagen is collaborating with both D-Wave Systems and Google since 2017. D-Wave Systems is a Canadian company which focuses on finding real practical applications to use quantum computing in. Google is… well I guess there is no need to explain that.
The project that is being pushed to the factories is a big surprise to me, I didn’t realize this was a big issue. Then again, I’m not very well traversed in the automotive business.
In their factories there is a step to apply primer to the cars, called the paint shop. Apparently the primer changes depending on the color of the car, and this is a costly and time consuming task. The whole assembly line seems to halt during a change. Volkswagen has created a algorithm to maximize the efficiency in the paint shop using a quantum computer. They even claim that the increase will significantly increase the output from the paint shop.
They will soon begin shipping this quantum powered algorithm to factories in Germany.
This might not sound like a super complex problem, but according to their lead data scientist, David, it is a very complex problem that regular super computers cannot handle fast enough.
Not Volkswagen’s first practical application
The paint shop wont be the first practical application Volkswagen uses quantum computing for. They have had a pilot project in Lisbon to optimize the traffic flow, the project is called Quantum Routing. The project was aimed at two functions primarily, predicting amount of passengers, and optimizing the routes the buses should take.
They also apply quantum computing to better determine prices for their products.
It is really interesting seeing the quantum computer research reaching new heights. I never imagined that real world applications would start appearing so soon.
I just hope we keep seeing applications that aim to help humanity, instead of the opposite.
I do hope you enjoyed this short recap of the latest news from Volkswagen regarding their Quantum computing research.
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