VW, Google cooperate on quantum computing in tech push

Christoph Rauwald
Bloomberg News

Volkswagen AG plans three research projects on a Google quantum computer as part of the German automaker’s push to develop new digital features for cars and broaden its technological heft beyond manufacturing and selling vehicles.

The projects include refining traffic-management systems, simulating the structure of electric-car batteries and other materials as well as artificial intelligence for autonomous driving, Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen said Tuesday in a statement.

“Quantum computer technology opens new dimensions for us,” Chief Information Officer Martin Hofmann said in the statement. “We from Volkswagen want to be among the first to use quantum computing as a company as soon as this technology is commercially available.”

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. The strategy is part of seismic shift across the auto industry to virtually connected, battery-powered cars that can drive themselves.

Google will be providing access to powerful devices that use the principles of quantum mechanics to process information in a wider variety of ways than a conventional computer, which uses just a binary system to identify data. VW started its first quantum-computing project in March in China to optimize traffic for 10,000 taxis in Beijing, using another technology supplier.

“We’re looking forward to explore together how quantum computing could change and bring forward the automobile industry,” Hartmut Neven, development head at Google Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said in the statement.