BMW taps French quantum computing firm for design, manufacturing tasks
Engineers know them from their studies: differential equations are something like the high school of mathematics. In many areas of technology (such as electrodynamics, fluid mechanics or in the calculation of vibrations) they hold the key to numerous approaches to solutions, but they are usually not easy to solve. Quantum computers offer one way to do this – and that is why many carmakers are interested in this technology.
Like BMW, for example: the Bavarian vehicle manufacturer is teaming up with the French quantum computer company Pasqal. The goal is, among others, enhancing the automaker’s primary manufacturing processes. Leveraging Pasqal’s algorithm for solving differential equations, BMW Group aims to analyse the applicability of quantum computing technology to metal forming applications modeling.
These applications require extensive simulations to ensure auto parts are conforming to specifications. Predictive and rapid virtual modeling will bring the manufacturing process towards safer designs, more sustainable products and zero-prototyping. Pasqal’s researchers have developed a digital-analog implementation of its quantum methods, tailored for its neutral-atom quantum processors, which makes these applications 30 times more efficient than on competing superconducting quantum processors.
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Accurate computational simulation would allow BMW Group to replace costly physical build / test / improve cycles, as current classical computational methods are incapable of dealing with the complexity of simulating a full vehicle at the desired accuracy. Such simulations could ultimately help BMW Group create lighter parts, making cars more fuel-efficient.
The collaboration is the result of Pasqal’s selection as a winner of the BMW Group Quantum Computing Challenge late last year. Previous collaborations focused on developing quantum computational methods for chemistry and materials-science which can for instance be used to optimize battery designs at the atomistic level. The renewed collaboration extends this scope to other relevant time and length scales adding micro and macro-level materials simulations.
“Renewing and extending the scope of our collaboration with BMW Group is a clear sign of the value Pasqal can bring to our customers. Each time we collaborate with BMW Group, we discover something more we can do to help them develop superior automobiles,” says Pasqal CEO Georges-Olivier Reymond. “Pasqal currently offers the only method on the market for solving these types of differential equations with quantum technology, which are critical to execute effective and accurate simulations.”
Pasqal believes these use cases are excellent candidates for early quantum advantage with its proprietary quantum algorithms, which the company plans to reach within two years. These complex simulations will run over a six-month period in Pasqal’s facilities. Real-world applications for these simulations include crash testing as well as accelerated development of new parts and materials which are lighter and stronger, keeping passengers safe while both reducing emissions and cutting development costs.