Volkswagen is turning to the most powerful computing technology in order to assist in their mission to create a new traffic flow optimisation.
The Volkswagen Group is the world’s first automaker to use quantum computers, further improving their digital prowess for a future filled with self-driving cars. By teaming up with D-Wave Systems, quantum computing specialists, the carmaker intends to develop a smart mobility system that utilises D-Wave’s computing expertise.
Quantum computers can solve highly complex problems in a fraction of the time it would take using even the most powerful conventional computers. Up until now, the primary use of the technology has been for scientific research, government agencies and the aerospace sector. Now, Volkswagen intends to stay one step ahead of the competition with their step in to quantum computing for the automotive industry.
The Volkswagen and D-Wave partnership was officially announced at CeBIT 2017 – a tech conference held in Germany – where, as a world first, the companies demonstrated software that optimised traffic flow on a quantum computer.
The strategic cooperation between the two companies focuses on the joint use of quantum computing systems. Experts from the Volkswagen Group IT labs are testing the programming of applications and algorithms on D-Wave’s quantum computer. This will result in the development of specialist expertise at Volkswagen and on the identification of meaningful applications that would benefit from the application of quantum computing within the Group.
“Quantum computing technology can bring tremendous progress to Volkswagen with respect to all the key IT topics of the future.”
MARTIN HOFFMAN – CIO, VOLKSWAGEN GROUP
The first demonstration of the software took data from 10,000 taxis in Beijing and optimised their travel time across the city. The computing principle of a quantum computer is especially well-suited for this project because it natively solves optimisation problems.
In simplified terms, an optimisation 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.
With a software demonstration already in place, it's interesting to think what Volkswagen and D-Wave might accomplish before the first fully autonomous VW vehicles begin taking orders.