Volkswagen has used a quantum computer to successfully simulate molecules such as lithium-hydrogen and carbon chains, and says that this is an important step in developing batteries for electric vehicles. It is now to move onto simulating more complex chemical compounds, with the aim of creating a complete battery on a quantum computer. This will give a tailor-made configurable chemical blueprint.
In the long term, a quantum algorithm could be used to simulate and thus optimize different criteria for the battery, such as weight reduction, maximizing power density, or the impact of different cell assemblies. This could significantly speed up battery development.
The Volkswagen CODE Lab in San Francisco is working on such algorithms alongside the company’s IT lab in Munich. CODE Lab Principal Scientist Florian Neukart said in a statement: “We are working hard to develop the potential of quantum computers for Volkswagen. The simulation of electrochemical materials is an important project in this context. In this field, we are performing genuine pioneering work. We are convinced that commercially available quantum computers will open up previously unimaginable opportunities. We intend to acquire the specialist knowledge we need for this purpose now.”
VW CIO Martin Hofmann said in a recent interview with automotiveIT that quantum computers have “reached a stage where it becomes interesting to start developing use cases.” He cited one project involving publicly available data from Beijing taxis that were used to plot optimal routes. “We were trying to prove that a particular traffic optimization problem could be addressed with a quantum computer,” he said.
Volkswagen’s research work is presented at the CEBIT technology show in Hanover this month. Technology partners in the quantum computing program are Google and D-Wave, who provide the Volkswagen team with access to their systems.