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Daimler joins forces with Google to research the application of quantum computers

In shaping future mobility, complex issues need to be addressed which stretch the current generations of computers and server systems to the limits of their capabilities, or even beyond. It is hoped that quantum computers will make it possible to resolve such tasks and to speed up work in this area. Daimler is thus pursuing strategic research partnerships in the field of quantum computing, and has signed a cooperation agreement in this area with Google. The design of Google’s recent 72‑qubit Bristlecone chip features the highest number of quantum bits ever used in a quantum computer. Qubits are the smallest possible unit of data storage and serve as a unit of measurement denoting the performance capability of quantum computers.

This cooperation agreement allows specialist teams from Daimler Group Research and IT to use quantum computers from Google in order to pursue concrete issues relating to the future shape of mobility. The initiative is fully in line with Daimler’s vision of serving customers in future not only as a vehicle manufacturer, but as an all-embracing provider of mobility services.

“Innovation and an inventive spirit have always been part of our DNA at Daimler. In inventing the automobile 132 years ago we initiated a pioneering process of transformation for people’s individual mobility,” observes Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “Quantum computing could play a crucial role in future in developing sustainable and efficient mobility solutions, as well as in diverse applications within our company.” Jan Brecht, CIO at Daimler, adds: “Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionise the entire IT sector and, in turn, all other areas of industry. This technology is as yet still in the early stages of research and development – but it harbours vast potential. Our aim is to acquire experience with this new technology at an early stage. To this end, we are contributing concrete use cases from the automotive and mobility fields to the research partnerships.”

A new dimension in computing: quantum computers

Put simply, a quantum computer is a computer which directly applies the laws of quantum physics. In contrast to present-day computers, it does not operate solely in a binary numeral system (0 or 1), but also knows other states – the so-called superpositions. These intermediate states, which cannot be modelled using traditional computers, vastly expand the scope of computing capabilities, enabling complex calculations to be performed at previously inconceivable speeds.

The numerous potential applications for quantum computers include

  • the selection of new materials based on quantum chemistry, e.g. for the development of battery cells
  • the efficient and convenient provision of individual mobility. Autonomous vehicles can be deployed here in urban environments and mega-cities, at the same time relieving the strain on the transport infrastructure
  • logistics planning in the vans segment. Routes require to be planned here and updated in real time by reference to numerous variables
  • the optimisation of production planning and production processes
  • deep learning to advance the development of artificial intelligence.

The broad-ranging research activities in the field of quantum computing form part of the CASE strategy and underscore Daimler AG’s transformation from vehicle manufacturer to mobility services provider. CASE stands for connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric). The aim is to shape intuitive mobility for our customers through intelligent dovetailing of the CASE topics.

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