Study: How the automotive industry will benefit from quantum computing

September 09, 2020 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Study: How the automotive industry will benefit from quantum computing
Quantum computers are far from being technically mature, but practical applications are already emerging. In particular, the automotive industry could benefit greatly from the use of these machines. The consulting firm McKinsey has investigated where the potential lies.

After companies such as IBM with its Q System One or D-Wave Technologies made headlines in recent years with supposedly usable quantum computers, various companies in the automotive value chain have taken a closer look at this technology - the promises made by manufacturers were too seductive. According to their pledges, quantum computers are ideal for solving certain problems that the best scientists have long been brooding over, such as route optimisation, fuel cell optimisation and the durability of materials.

According to the McKinsey study, some of these early users have already achieved a certain success. Volkswagen, for example, has teamed up with D-Wave to develop a traffic management system that optimises the routes of buses in urban traffic. The automotive supplier Bosch has invested $21 million in the start-up company Zapata Computing (Cambridge, Massachusetts).

However, the reluctance still far outweighs the commitment to this innovative computing technology, write the authors of the McKinsey study. The novelty of the technology and the still very narrow market have so far discouraged many companies from intensively engaging in quantum computing. It will take another five to ten years before this technology has become established in the long term. By then, quantum computing will have overcome several hurdles: Quantum Supremacy must be achieved; the practical benefit must be proven beyond doubt; application software must be available to solve concrete problems; and above all, a Quantum Turing Machine must be available. The latter means that a universally applicable quantum architecture with quantum memory and conventional main memory (RAM) must be available. Such a machine, as described by the experts at McKinsey, will be able to work with the number of qubits required by the users and execute arbitrary algorithms. Such a machine will be available in one to two decades, the study says.

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