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Volkswagen and Google have agreed to work together on “practically oriented research” related to quantum computing.

The German automaker will use Google’s quantum computing technology in three fields of research: traffic optimisation, machine learning, and material simulation, specifically for high-performance electric car batteries.

As part of the collaboration, specialists from Volkswagen information technology centres in Munich and San Francisco “will develop algorithms, simulations and optimisations together with the Google experts”.

Through this partnership, Volkswagen hopes it can improve traffic guidance systems, make advances in the field of autonomous driving, and discover new ideas regarding battery construction and design.

In traditional computers, the basic unit of data is the bit, which is either a zero or a one. Bits are stored and sent through basic logic gates, which when combined together can perform mathematical tasks.

Scaled up massively in complexity, but scaled down to nanometre scale physically, computers can store gigabytes of cat photos, manipulate huge quantities of information, and search through vast libraries of data in one’s hand or lap.

Quantum computing, on the other hand, uses the mind-bending details of quantum physics and mechanics to store multiple values in one bit, and calculate all the possible solutions to a problem simultaneously.

Although largely still in the research phase, quantum computing could revolutionise computing. Traditional computers require plenty of simplifying assumptions to model complex situations, such as traffic flow or weather patterns. Quantum computers could simulate such situations without any of these assumptions and in a fraction of the time.

This video from Kurzgesagt provides a better and more in-depth look into quantum computing for those curious.

Volkswagen claims to be the first automaker to “intensively” use quantum computing, during a 2015 research project optimising the traffic flow of 10,000 taxis in Beijing.

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