Google, Volkswagen spin up quantum computing partnership

Pair to work on traffic optimisation and better batteries

By Richard Chirgwin

Posted in Data Centre, 8th November 2017 05:01 GMT

Google's quantum computer isn't much more than a science project at this stage, but Volkswagen is hitching a ride anyway.

At the Web Summit conference in Europe yesterday, VW announced it inked a deal with the Chocolate Factory, in which they will work together on quantum applications in traffic management, and battery development.

Since it first started fooling around with a D-Wave box in 2015, Google has become a quantum computing enthusiast. Earlier this year, it announced tests of an in-house project called a "variational quantum eigensolver", and in October published a compiler for quantum problems.

The two companies are far from strange bedfellows, as building quantum computers involves knotty engineering. Volkswagen already funds a broad range of science projects through a research foundation, while Google's parent company has fingers in all manner of science-infused pies.

For VW, it looks like a much longer-term bet, because the car-maker's statement cites problems that quantum computers are not yet ready for real-world use, and probably won't be for some time. Its favoured development areas are "traffic optimisation, to explore structures for new materials, especially high-performance batteries for electric vehicles, and to work on artificial intelligence with new machine learning processes".

VW IT specialists in San Francisco and Munich will "develop algorithms, simulations and optimisations together with the Google experts", the statement says.

VW's interest in quantum computing goes back at least to March, when the company showed off work on traffic optimisation in a collaboration with D-Wave.

That's the kind of problem the D-Wave machine is best suited to: it's a specialist, rather than general-purpose, quantum computer whose solutions present as the lowest possible energy state of its qubits. Google's aim is more ambitious, as demonstrated by its compiler work. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily

6 Comments

More from The Register

Microsoft asks devs for quantum leap of faith

Try writing quantum code in Q#, because...uh, teleportation

Google: We don't have a quantum computer yet, but we have a compiler

It's quantum, it's open source, it's on GitHub. Did we miss anything?

Today in non-depressing news: Boffins build biggest quantum sims

Each packed with 50-plus qubits, it's a stepping stone to next-gen computing. Possibly

Boffins show off speedy quantum CNOT gate - in silicon

This gives us building blocks for coupla-qubits quantum computers

Japanese boffins try 'token passing' to scale quantum calculations

If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it it on a ring

Microsoft: We've made a coding language for a quantum computer that may or may not exist

Ignite Windows giant touts magic to distract from its legacy tech battle

Oz boffins cook quantum computing out of mothballs

Burned naphthalene hosts room-temperature qubits

Look! Over there! Intel's cooked a 17-qubit chip quantum package

Have you tried collapsing the waveform and polarizing a photon again?

Quantum computers could crack Bitcoin, but fixes are available now

Shor, we need a new sig scheme

Microsoft and Rambus will get schwifty in quantum-cum-cryogenic computation collab

Turn off the heating, it's gonna get −180C in here