Quantum computing. One step further on the way to application

December 12, 2019 - With their recently announced "Supremacy-Experiment", Google has provided experimental results to demonstrate a quantum computer needing only a fraction of the time of the world’s fastest supercomputer to solve a specific computational problem. To be more precise: 200 seconds compared to a calculated 10,000 years. The renowned scientific journal Nature published the tested results in its October issue no. 574/2019.

Daimler and Google continued Research Collaboration

Mercedes-Benz embarked on its QC partnership with Google in early 2018, and later that year began fundamental research projects in the fields of materials science and quantum chemical simulation. As the research collaboration has continued, Mercedes-Benz has benefited from unique access to the Google scientists and hardware. As stated by Tyler Takeshita, the Global QC Technical Lead at Mercedes-Benz, at the recent Q2B conference “We are excited to work with Google in making some of the first real experimental contributions of the post-supremacy era.”

A milestone in the history of computer technology

Three years ago, this milestone was still a far-off scenario. "When we took a closer look at quantum computers (QC) in research at Mercedes-Benz in 2016, we were somewhat amazed at how far the technology had progressed in recent years," says project engineer Gustav Böhm, who had taken on the task of setting up an initial team and searching for suitable partners together with Mercedes-Benz IT. This led to research projects such as with Google. Together with a few others, the company is one of the pioneers in the hardware development of this new computing type.

Collaborative Research

In the meantime, the QC team at Mercedes-Benz has grown. Experts from the research and IT departments in Germany and Silicon Valley, as well as a number of specialists from various departments within the company, discuss the most suitable calculation problems for QC. If the problem is suitable in theory, the task is to prepare it in such a way that it can be processed in a quantum computer. This very demanding task involves designing executable quantum algorithms. In some cases, simple, simulated proof-of-concept (POC) solutions have already been developed with the research partners.

Learn more about the special features of a quantum computer, which are very different from today's computer types:

One of the first applications of quantum computers will be in the fields of materials science and chemistry. The discovery of new chemical compounds for example can lead to the development of more powerful, more durable and less expensive vehicle batteries. Further goals include the application of QC technology to demanding problems in all areas of optimization and machine learning.

The successful implementation of the Google experiment can be seen as an important milestone, both in the development of this revolutionary computer type and in computer history. This does not mean that QC can already be used for highly complex calculations today. To achieve this, more years of research and important scientific and technical advances are required.

Recently, the Daimler QC team has been further strengthened and restructured. "The potential of the quantum computer is enormous. We are still seeing very real scientific progress. The potential for future commercial use seems very promising to us," explains Ben Boeser, Head of Innovation Management, Silicon Valley at Mercedes-Benz R&D North America (MBRDNA) and the Global Director of the Daimler QC program.

As one of Google's most important research partners for the application of QC technology, the Daimler team is eagerly awaiting the release of the new Sycamore chip. "We look forward to contributing to experiments run on the new chip as soon as possible," says the new QC Program Manager Russell Seeman. The next few years will be exciting, that seems to be certain.