Which companies that specialize in quantum computing
That is why BMW is investing in quantum computing
The popular saying goes: There is a solution for every problem. Unfortunately, it's not always like that. At least there isn't a good solution to every problem. Tom Hubregtsen and his team aim to have better solutions for some problems in the future. He has been with the BMW Group for three years and coordinates the company's quantum computing activities. "BMW has been dealing with this new technology since mid-2017"says Hubregtsen. "Even if quantum computers, especially universal quantum computers, are still years away from being used in everyday business, their development is promising." That is why BMW wants to gain experience early on with a key technology that has disruptive potential.
Different system concepts
Quantum computers do not calculate with zeros and ones. Rather, they work with qubits, which, according to quantum physics, can assume any value between zero and one. This allows quantum computers to run through many possible combinations at the same time in one calculation, which traditional systems would largely have to process one after the other. If you work on the right problem with the right algorithm on a quantum computer, you have an immense speed advantage - and can therefore carry out calculations that are impossible on classical systems for reasons of time. Optimization problems are particularly suitable for this.
In the meantime, manufacturers have put various system concepts into practice. In addition to the universal quantum computers, such as those developed by IBM or Google, there are also quantum computers that can only solve very specific optimization problems. For example, D-Wave has a Quantum Annealer, also called an adiabatic quantum computer. Fujitsu, on the other hand, offers a digital annealer in which the circuit design was inspired by quantum phenomena. There are also quantum simulators as a cloud service, but also on classic computers, which makes quantum computing quite inexpensive.
Cooperation with universities
"For a high-level developer, integrating a quantum computer into an algorithm is just as easy as integrating an accelerator", explains Hubregtsen. "Ultimately, it is a function call in a library." But a very system-oriented programming is also possible with quantum computers, which then reminds more of assembler. "The decisive factor, however, is that you have to think completely differently with the algorithms" - One plus one equals two does not apply to quantum computers. "We started with Quantum Annealers and Digital Annealers because they were the first systems available, and now we mainly work with universal quantum computers and quantum simulators"says Hubregtsen.
Depending on the question, the Quantum Computing core team works together with the relevant departments. In addition, BMW cooperates in quantum computer research with various universities - mainly the TU Delft, the Technical University of Munich and the LMU Munich - as well as with several companies that have specialized in this new field. "We are also thinking about participating in consortia", says Hubregtsen.
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