Artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, optimisation problems: the benefits of quantum computing and other technological advances are potentially enormous in the automotive industry.
Booming collaborations between IT and automotive industries
Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft … Since a few months ago, the IT giants launched multiple ads to show the efforts they undertook in quantum computing. This area of research is currently one of the most dynamic in the high-tech field. Cooperation and partnerships are being made from all sides. Automobile manufacturers Daimler and Honda are important partners of IBM’s quantum research program.
A firm like Volkswagen has partnered with Google and already relies heavily on quantum computing to develop innovative cars and automotive systems. At the Web Summit held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2018, the manufacturer has announced the development of an intelligent traffic management system, powered by quantum computers. The objective is to enable mobility service providers to identify the areas where customer demand is the strongest. The challenge is to satisfy customers as quickly as possible by reducing wait times while minimising downtime for service providers, eventually to maximise the number of races and therefore the turnover.
Volkswagen states that it began its work with anonymous traffic data collected from connected devices and transmitters embedded in the vehicles. As part of the first phase, the data is exploited by a “traditional” algorithm on a traditional computer to determine the time and location of traffic concentration points and the service demand to derive results. The results of the calculations established via this algorithm will later be exploited by a quantum algorithm, whose role will be to optimise the functional exploitation of the data. In the end, Volkswagen will be able to allow suppliers to tailor the deployment of their fleet as close as possible to the customer requirements.
The huge potential of quantum computing for the automotive industry
To understand the potential of quantum computing for the automotive industry, we must recall some principles of quantum computing. This is based on the use of “quantum bits” or qbits which have the particularity of being worth both 0 and 1. This property follows directly from the principle of quantum superposition which allows a particle to have several state values at the same time. An example of a state is the “spin”, a property often equated with the kinetic moment.
The advantage of using quantum computing for complex automotive tasks such as traffic optimisation is its speed and huge ability to handle such large data sets. Supercomputers are often not sharp enough to use such large volumes of information to develop an optimised solution. Quantum computers are therefore currently the best option for predicting traffic volume, transport demand and travel times.
The automotive industries generally hope that quantum computing will allow them to break new grounds in their innovation. They want to take advantage of quantum computing, which increases the computing speed of computers to a much higher level than a traditional computer.
Beyond quantum computing, the automotive industry is being disrupted by the application of numerous new technologies. Automated and autonomous driving, intelligent infotainment and lightweight design are current trends in the automotive sector, but there are others such as digitalisation, sustainability, efficiency, and cost optimisation. These elements help to improve road safety and enhance driving comfort.
Automated car, sustainable brakes, and high-tech tires
One of the main trends in the automotive sector is automated driving. In the future, the interconnection of smart technologies will enable the management of vehicle driving on an increasing number of roads. On March 18, 2018, the first ever proven case of a fatal accident caused by an autonomous vehicle made a lot of buzz. A pedestrian was fatally hit by a Uber autonomous car in Arizona. The American company immediately decided to suspend its tests, as well as a few other companies.
But many major manufacturers or companies have decided to invest in this innovative market and this accident will probably only put a temporary stop to the expanding industry of the autonomous car. Anyways, there are many other uses of automation, and companies like Toyota and Amazon are already working on automated forklifts. By 2020 you should be able to put your used forklifts for sale on the marketplace and purchase a brand new automated forklift!
But progress is no longer stalled, and the automotive sector is full of ingenious ideas to improve the driving experience. Among them, one can quote for example the system of hydrogenation thought by the Mexican team CLEY, winner of the Valeo Innovation Challenge 2017. The principle is to create hydrogen during the braking phases via the heat of the brakes, then to recover this energy to mix it with gasoline and thus improve the combustion of the engine. As a result, we gain in efficiency while lowering our fuel consumption. When it comes to the brakes, to brake a car required anticipatory action from the end of the driver! Besides, one needed to check their brake pads, because it is essential for the safety of the driver. Brake replacement should ideally be done once a year.
For their part, Pannex and some others tackled the tyre industry. Last year, the start-up won the “Lighting The Way” Hackathon organized by Volvo through its application project allowing the intervention of a car mechanic to check the inflation and check the condition of the tyres of his car, without having to move it or even be present. You can say bye bye to your weekend mechanic sessions.
The Lithuanian company Pannex has designed a biodegradable mastic based on microfibers. This anti-puncture adhesive is capable of re-sealing holes up to 8 mm. It’s an extremely efficient, economical and an ecological process. For more safety, Smart me up has developed a sophisticated system of facial recognition to avoid driving drowsiness. Thanks to a camera integrated into the cabin, it is possible to detect if the driver falls asleep.
Multiple automotive companies are working on innovations as it drives stronger earnings, growth and gives businesses the means to protect their business and enter new markets. As competition is the engine of technological progress and innovation, more breakthrough are to be expected soon in the automotive industry!