Volkswagen Boosts Battery Research Using Quantum Computing

The development of high-performance batteries for electric vehicles is a tedious and complicated affair. And the automaker that produces the longest lasting batteries, not counting Energizer and its famous bunny, will have the biggest advantage in this long and challenging race for EV dominance. Having identified all these hurdles Volkswagen Group, much like Daimler, is now using quantum computing to push the envelope of new battery technology.

Volkswagen boffins have succeeded in simulating lithium-hydrogen molecules and carbon chains using a quantum computer, which is especially relevant for the development of batteries in high-performance electric vehicles. Now, the focus has shifted onto more complex chemical compounds. Their objective being, to simulate the chemical structure of a complete electric vehicle battery on a quantum computer and to develop a “tailor-made battery,” in a configurable chemical blueprint that is ready for production.

Martin Hofmann, CIO of the Volkswagen Group stated, “We are focusing on the modernization of IT systems throughout the Group.” He added, “The objective is to intensify the digitalization of work processes – to make them simpler, more secure and more efficient and to support new business models. This is why we are combining our core task with the introduction of specific key technologies for Volkswagen. These include the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, as well as quantum computing.”

By utilizing advanced algorithms, Volkswagen experts have done the groundwork for simulating and optimizing the chemical structure of high-performance electric vehicle batteries on a quantum computer in San Francisco. In the future, the quantum algorithm could simulate the chemical composition of a battery based on criteria such as weight reduction, maximum power density or cell assembly, and provide a design which could be used for production, thereby accelerating the otherwise tedious and resource-intensive battery development process.

Florian Neukart, principle scientist at Volkswagen’s CODE Lab in San Francisco says, “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.” He added, “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.”

Volkswagen’s IT collective, including data scientists, computer linguists and software engineers, are collaborating with Google and D-Wave. These companies are providing the German conglomerate with access to their systems for this purpose.

Volkswagen will present its research pertaining to quantum computing at the CEBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany between June 12 and 15.

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