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The race to the quantum computer is on the home straight

While VW and Google are already researching quantum mechanical applications, the developers are starting the final sprint – with a surprisingly high level of competition.

15 Dec. 2017
Marie-Lucine Tapyuli
The race to the quantum computer is on the home straight (picture: Andy Aaron, IBM via Flickr)

Quantum computers can solve many highly complex tasks much faster than conventional supercomputers. This is sometimes the only way to find a solution. VW and Google will in future jointly test the use of quantum computers in order to expand their specialist knowledge and conduct application-oriented research. A team of experts from both companies is working on a Google quantum computer. VW’s IT department wants this cooperative project to boost three development areas in particular: firstly, traffic optimization (traffic control systems, available e-charging stations, free parking areas, etc.); secondly, the simulation of material structures for high-performance e-vehicle batteries and new materials; and thirdly, working with artificial intelligence and new machine learning methods.

Just days after this report, IBM – alongside Intel, the third major player in the field – announced the development of a 20-qubit processor ; a 50-qubit prototype is already in progress. The race is obviously heating up. And there are also competitors like Rigetti Computing and a lateral entrant who was actually there from the beginning, Dr. Robert Schoelkopf of Yale University, whose research provides an essential basis for current developments, and who has set up his own business with two colleagues and now wants to reach market maturity with the company Quantum Circuits .