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Volkswagen partners with D-Wave on quantum computing; CeBIT premiere of research project for traffic flow optimization

Volkswagen partners with D-Wave on quantum computing; CeBIT premiere of research project for traffic flow optimization

Volkswagen Group IT is cooperating with leading quantum computing company D-Wave Systems on a research project for traffic flow optimization.

At CeBIT 2017 in Hanover, Volkswagen and D-Wave will be announcing their strategic cooperation and, as a world premiere, demonstrating a software program that optimizes traffic flow on a quantum computer. In the course of this project, experts from the Volkswagen Code Lab in San Francisco and the Volkswagen Data Lab in Munich and used data from approximately 10,000 taxis in Beijing.

Data scientists and AI specialists from Volkswagen have successfully programmed an algorithm to optimize the travel time of all public taxis in the city. The computing principle of a quantum computer is especially well-suited for this project because it natively solves optimization problems.

Cloud-based “IBM Q” quantum systems and services
Earlier this month, IBM announced an industry-first initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computing systems. “IBM Q” quantum systems and services will be delivered via the IBM Cloud platform.
IBM als released a new API (Application Program Interface) for the IBM Quantum Experience that enables developers and programmers to begin building interfaces between its existing five quantum bit (qubit) cloud-based quantum computer and classical computers, without needing a deep background in quantum physics.
IBM also released an upgraded simulator on the IBM Quantum Experience that can model circuits with up to 20 qubits. In the first half of 2017, IBM plans to release a full SDK (Software Development Kit) on the IBM Quantum Experience for users to build simple quantum applications and software programs.
IBM intends to build IBM Q systems to expand the application domain of quantum computing. A key metric will be the power of a quantum computer expressed by the “Quantum Volume”, which includes the number of qubits, quality of quantum operations, qubit connectivity and parallelism.
As a first step to increase Quantum Volume, IBM aims at constructing commercial IBM Q systems with ~50 qubits in the next few years to demonstrate capabilities beyond today’s classical systems, and plans to collaborate with key industry partners to develop applications that exploit the quantum speedup of the systems.
In addition to working with developers and universities, IBM has been engaging with industrial partners to explore the potential applications of quantum computers. Any organization interested in collaborating to explore quantum applications can apply for membership to the IBM Research Frontiers Institute, a consortium that develops and shares a portfolio of ground-breaking computing technologies and evaluates their business implications. Founding members of the Frontiers Institute include Samsung, JSR, Honda, Hitachi Metals, Canon, and Nagase.

In simplified terms, an optimization problem considers how a specific resource (such as time, money or energy) can be used in the best possible way in a certain scenario. The complexity of the task and therefore the computing capacity required grow exponentially with the number of factors to be considered, taking conventional digital computers to their limits.

We are doing digital pioneering work. Quantum computing technology can bring tremendous progress to Volkswagen with respect to all the key IT topics of the future. We are now laying the foundation for the future by learning to make effective use of the strengths of a quantum computer. Our cooperation with D-Wave is a milestone on the way to the digital future of our Group.

—Dr. Martin Hofmann, CIO of the Volkswagen Group

The goal of our cooperation with Volkswagen is to apply our quantum computing technology to Volkswagen’s real-world computing challenges and make a positive impact on their business. Bringing together our quantum computing experts with their automotive AI experts is the perfect model to make significant progress toward that goal. This project is a great example of how computing in the future will be done, with talented people looking at new ways to solve old problems, and combining traditional computers with quantum computers to deliver an improved solution.

—Robert “Bo” Ewald, President of D-Wave International

The Volkswagen Group says it is the first automaker to work intensively with quantum computing technology. Group IT expects a wide range of application possibilities especially in the areas of autonomous driving, the robotic enterprise (AI-supported process control), the smart factory, machine learning and intelligent mobility solutions.

Further projects with D-Wave are to follow. Initially, the main focus is on the acquisition of specialist knowledge. The IT experts are testing applications and algorithms to make the best possible use of the tremendous computing potential of D-Wave‘s quantum computer. In addition, the Volkswagen Group plans to intensify cooperation with universities and scientific institutes in the field of quantum computing.

A quantum computer is a device that exploits the “weirdness” of quantum mechanics to be a more powerful type of computer. Currently, each bit in a computer is either at zero or one. A quantum computer has quantum bits, which can be zero, one, or in-between; they can even have several different values at the same time. For algorithm-based solutions, this means that the quantum computer only has to run one set of calculations to analyze various scenarios. It can also deal with much larger, more complex data sets and crunch the numbers much faster.

D-Wave was founded in 1999 with the goal of making practical quantum computing a reality. In 2010, it released its first commercial system, the D-Wave One quantum computer. D-Wave has doubled the number of qubits in successive generations, shipping the 512-qubit D-Wave Two system in 2013 and the 1000+ qubit D-Wave 2X system in 2015. In 2017 it released the D-Wave 2000Q system with 2000 qubits and advanced control features.

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