Daimler is pursuing strategic research partnerships in the field of quantum computing, and has signed a cooperation agreement with Google in this area. The design of Google’s recent 72‑qubit Bristlecone chip features the highest number of quantum bits yet used in a quantum computer. Qubits are the smallest possible unit of data storage and serve as a unit of measurement denoting the performance capability of quantum computers.
|Bristlecone is Google’s newest quantum processor (left). On the right is a cartoon of the device: each “X” represents a qubit, with nearest neighbor connectivity. Source: Google. Click to enlarge.|
This cooperation agreement allows specialist teams from Daimler Group Research and IT to use quantum computers from Google in order to pursue concrete issues relating to the future shape of mobility. The initiative is fully in line with Daimler’s vision of serving customers in future not only as a vehicle manufacturer, but as an all-embracing provider of mobility services.
Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize the entire IT sector and, in turn, all other areas of industry. This technology is as yet still in the early stages of research and development—but it harbors vast potential. Our aim is to acquire experience with this new technology at an early stage. To this end, we are contributing concrete use cases from the automotive and mobility fields to the research partnerships.—Jan Brecht, CIO at Daimler
In contrast to present-day computers, a quantum computer does not operate solely in a binary numeral system (0 or 1), but also knows other states, called superpositions. These intermediate states, which cannot be modelled using traditional computers, vastly expand the scope of computing capabilities, enabling complex calculations to be performed at previously inconceivable speeds.
The numerous potential applications for quantum computers include:
The selection of new materials based on quantum chemistry, e.g. for the development of battery cells.
The efficient and convenient provision of individual mobility. Autonomous vehicles can be deployed here in urban environments and mega-cities, at the same time relieving the strain on the transport infrastructure.
Logistics planning in the vans segment. Routes require to be planned here and updated in real time by reference to numerous variables.
The optimization of production planning and production processes.
Deep learning to advance the development of artificial intelligence.
The broad-ranging research activities in the field of quantum computing form part of the CASE strategy and underscore Daimler AG’s transformation from vehicle manufacturer to mobility services provider. CASE stands for connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric). The aim is to shape intuitive mobility for our customers through intelligent dovetailing of the CASE topics.
|Construction of a quantum computer. Click to enlarge.|
Bristlecone. Researchers from Google’s Quantum AI Lab previewed the new Bristlecone quantum processor at the annual Americal Physical Society meeting in Los Angeles earlier this month.
The gate-based superconducting system will provide a testbed for research into system error rates and scalability of Google’s qubit technology, as well as applications in quantum simulation, optimization, and machine learning.
The guiding design principle for this device is to preserve the underlying physics of our previous 9-qubit linear array technology, which demonstrated low error rates for readout (1%), single-qubit gates (0.1%) and most importantly two-qubit gates (0.6%) as our best result. This device uses the same scheme for coupling, control, and readout, but is scaled to a square array of 72 qubits. We chose a device of this size to be able to demonstrate quantum supremacy in the future, investigate first and second order error-correction using the surface code, and to facilitate quantum algorithm development on actual hardware.… We are looking to achieve similar performance to the best error rates of the 9-qubit device, but now across all 72 qubits of Bristlecone. We believe Bristlecone would then be a compelling proof-of-principle for building larger scale quantum computers. Operating a device such as Bristlecone at low system error requires harmony between a full stack of technology ranging from software and control electronics to the processor itself. Getting this right requires careful systems engineering over several iterations.—Julian Kelly, Research Scientist, Quantum AI Lab