Google, Volkswagen spin up quantum computing partnership

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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".

Volkswagen was the first carmaker to adopt quantum computers. The idea is that quantum computers are some of the most powerful yet efficient machines imagined by humans, by giving them a more advanced language to work with instead of today's classic computer speak of ones and zeroes in bits.

Volkswagen Group IT wants to make progress in three development areas on the Google quantum computer.

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"Quantum computing technology opens up new dimensions and represents the fast-track for future-oriented topics". VW claims that will be important to autonomous driving, a technology both it and Google are developing.

When it comes to batteries, the Volkswagen specialists plan to use this opportunity to work with Google on "simulating and optimizing the structure of high-performance batteries for electric vehicles and other materials". VW started its first quantum-computing project in March in China to optimize traffic for 10,000 taxis in Beijing, using another technology supplier. Electric vehicles may be on their way to revolutionize the auto industry, but for now the high prices for their batteries contribute to slow electric vehicle adoption.

The world's largest automaker has stepped up spending on electric vehicles and new digital services like ride hailing as part of a comprehensive overhaul in the wake of its diesel-emissions scandal.

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It's no surprise that Volkswagen would want to research advanced AI, as that is also going to be necessary for building safe autonomous cars. This architecture is suitable for many experimental computing operations.

Right now, if you want to train an AI agent that has a high accuracy in identifying street objects, for instance, you will need to throw millions and millions of images of such objects at it.

The companies say that they will focus on research for "practical applications" and that specialists from the Volkswagen Information Technology Centers (IT labs) in San Francisco and Munich will "develop algorithms, simulations and optimizations together with the Google experts". These include urban traffic guidance systems, available electric charging stations or vacant parking spaces.

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