Leverage quantum computing now

This article was originally published here: https://www.autonews.com/commentary/quantum-computing-ceo-robert-liscouski-explains-ways-leverage-technology.

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Many of us recall the old Esso oil slogan “Put a tiger in your tank.” Then there was the generation of turbocharging cars. The next step for forward-thinking auto manufacturers is to find the best ways to apply the power of quantum computing to boost car design and production.

Leading automotive manufacturers are already exploring the power of quantum computing. BMW launched a challenge last year that solicited quantum computing solutions to automotive opportunities for improved value, such as automated vehicle design. In January, systems vendor IonQ announced a partnership with Hyundai to leverage the technology to advance the effectiveness of next-generation batteries.

It’s no surprise. The industry requires enormous capital investments. Any opportunity to improve and optimize design, supply chains, distribution and more can have a significant bottom-line impact.

Looking beyond the auto industry, there has been much excitement about the potential of quantum tech to transcend classical computing in many areas of business, logistics and production. How does it work, how can it help, and when will quantum computing have a real impact?

These new kinds of systems leverage the principles of quantum mechanics to expand computing capabilities. In classical computing, data is encoded in bits, with each bit having a value of either 0 or 1. In quantum computing, the data is encoded in qubits — each of which can be encoded as both 0 and 1. This state is called “superposition” and enables quantum computers to operate as parallelized systems and work on a million computations at once. By leveraging superposition and other quantum principles, quantum computers can crunch much larger data volumes, better mirror the natural multidimensional state of the world, and handle problems that are exponentially more complex.

In simpler terms, this means better designs, smarter and more efficient cars and the ability to tackle the optimization computations that drive those results, which would take classical computers hundreds of years to solve.

The technology is rapidly evolving and not quite ready for widespread use. Still, there are beneficial ways to leverage quantum computing techniques right now. As noted, early adopters are already exploring its potential. Given that quantum is a new paradigm with a learning curve for all organizations, those who get started now will gain a competitive advantage from quantum computing. Here are some ways it can help.

Optimization is likely one of the first applications of quantum computing to deliver business value for automotive manufacturers. Optimization challenges are found across the industry, including in design, supply chains, manufacturing and distribution.

Most business decisions need to balance and reconcile constraints such as cost, volume or time to a set of variables related to cars, components or facilities. Optimization identifies the optimum decisions that ensure the most effective supply chains, driving the lowest possible cost.

Today’s large computer systems are struggling under the volume of data required to compute these complex calculations. This is where quantum computers promise to deliver results that give automotive manufacturers the insights they need to make the best possible supply chain decisions. They can also use quantum computers to identify optimal locations for plants, distribution facilities and other logistics hubs. From order levels to delivery to the production line, optimization can drive maximum output levels at the best cost.

Quantum computing optimization can reduce material and manufacturing costs while improving engineering and creating more effective automotive designs. This is especially important to help the industry adapt to the technology-driven electric and autonomous vehicle arenas.

  • Sensor placement: AVs require many sensors to boost automation while ensuring safety. Sensors assist in steering and navigation but are complex and expensive, resulting in significant bottom-line cost. Quantum computers can define the optimal sensor configuration to ensure the lowest possible cost with maximum vehicle safety.
  • Navigation: AV navigation requires the processing of vast amounts of data. Quantum computing can help with vehicle routing and route optimization.
  • Structural analysis: Virtual structural analysis and simulations are replacing physical testing. Quantum computing promises to provide more accurate simulations that enable engineers to design safer autos while reducing the time and effort to evaluate alternative designs.
  • Automated quality assessment: Another important use case is artificial intelligence-based quality inspection for cracks and scratches of vehicle parts produced by the metal-forming process. Convolutional neural networks, or CNNs, are commonly used. Quantum computing promises to overcome the computational challenges in CNNs, providing faster and more efficient training, for larger models, with higher accuracy.

In contrast to other complex design challenges in the past, the SR-71 Blackbird, acknowledged to be the fastest jet engine aircraft ever flown, was designed in the late 1950s entirely using a slide rule. Imagine what quantum computers will achieve when they reach full capability. Even though they are not ready for full production processing just yet, auto manufacturers can derive benefits from quantum technologies and techniques today. They can begin to explore the power of quantum computers to better prepare for a future of hybrid processing — a method of blending quantum and classical computers to solve problems more quickly and efficiently. Given the long lead times in the industry, and the need to constantly evolve and optimize, now is not too soon to seriously explore how to put some quantum in your tank.

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