July 19, 2024
How will quantum technology evolve the automotive industry?

The era of digitization will have a lot to offer to the automotive and fleet industries in the years to come. So much so that it won’t be possible to analyze extensive amounts of data and provide comprehensive security over intelligent transport systems (ITS) of smart cities and vast fleets in several industries. 

Corporate fleets are just scratching the surface of future technologies by gradually adapting telematics. Until 2030, there will be a whole different ecosystem with billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and millions of connected and automated vehicles. Foreseeing the approaching tech storm, automotive giants have already made a major step towards the future by entering quantum computing (QC). 

In just a few years, many challenges and tasks in the fleet industry, such as congestion and route planning, will be handled by quantum computers, which operate based on quantum mechanics. Unlike traditional computers, which use bits that can take the value of zero or one, quantum computers encode data in qubits, which have a third state called “superposition”. This allows them to be a one or a zero at the same time. This ability significantly increases the processing power of quantum computers, which is what the connected fleets and ITS will need. 

What will the use of quantum technology be? 

McKinsey&Company foresees a swift development until the 2030s during which the tech world will witness quantum simulations, complex optimization problems and complex quantum artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Stakeholders in the automotive industry will make a variety of uses of the technology: 

  • Suppliers will be able to develop various new technologies such as battery materials and cooling systems. QC will optimize supply routes, including multiple forms of transport. 
  • Supply chain management will boost efficiency along the value chain through accurate demand forecasting and warehouse logistics. 
  • OEMs will benefit from QC in vehicle design, in-vehicle and autonomous driving software and ensuring the safety of connected vehicles. 
  • Dealers will use QC algorithms to maximize the benefits of predictive maintenance. 
  • Shared mobility and service providers will master vehicle routing to boost fleet efficiency and demand forecast according to geography through simulating various economic scenarios. 

What are the OEMs working on? 

Automakers around the world have started investing in quantum technology with several targets:

Volkswagen: German auto giant announced a partnership with Google in 2017 to conduct research in quantum computing in three main areas. 

  • Optimizing traffic patterns: VW and quantum computing company D-Wave Systems ran an experiment in Beijing in 2017 based on an algorithm to optimize traffic flow, using data from 10,000 taxis. VW said the experiment provided positive results in reducing congestion by selecting an ideal route for every single vehicle. In the future, VW plans to use quantum algorithms to optimize the use of parking spaces and charging stations by sending information calculated in real-time. 
  • EV batteries: QC will help VW take ambitious EV battery-cell research to new heights. In 2018, VW engineers modelled key molecules such as lithium-hydrogen and carbon chains using quantum computers which opened the doors for more complex chemical compounds. The aim is to simulate the chemical composition of an EV battery on quantum computers depending on criteria such as maximum power density and cell assembly. 
  • Automated drive: QC will also support VW’s autonomous driving technologies through machine learning. 

Ford: Ford made a one-year agreement with NASA in 2018 to work with the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL) to increase the fuel efficiency of diesel-fueled fleet vehicles. The D-Wave 2000 computer at QuAIL created the first use cases for route optimization for Ford. While it is not easy for a traditional computer to put together several parameters such as speed, traffic patterns and the number of stops on a route, quantum computing will help maximize efficiency by revealing the optimal route. 

Daimler: Daimler chose Google in 2018 to take the first steps in quantum research to develop sustainable and efficient mobility solutions. Jan Brecht, CIO of Daimler, described their goal in the collaboration as “acquiring experience with quantum technology at an early stage.” To that end, Daimler will pursue advancement in areas including battery technology, autonomous vehicles and urban mobility through deep learning and AI on quantum computers. 

Toyota: Japanese auto giant Toyota partnered with global automotive components manufacturer Denso in 2017 and ran an experiment based on 130,000 commercial vehicles in Thailand to assess traffic data. Denso worked with Toyota subsidiary Toyota Tsusho to work with D-Wave Systems quantum computers. 

Bosch: Accelerating its presence in battery development and e-mobility, Bosch invested in Zapata Computing in 2019 to support algorithms, quantum software and other quantum tech tools. The main areas Bosch aims to take part in is sensor technology and quantum cryptography. 

The security key of the future 

Representing mobile computing platforms that are connected to other vehicles (V2V) and traffic infrastructure (V2I), connected vehicles will offer a remarkably enhanced attack surface for criminals. To make things worse, cybercriminals will significantly increase their arsenal by using quantum computers themselves. Currently employed public-key cryptography (PKC) methods are not protective against attacks from a quantum computer, which makes the use of quantum secure cryptographic mechanisms, also known as Post-Quantum Cryptography (QPC), inevitable. 

The adaptation of 5G and IoT technologies will ever increase the use of online services, e-commerce and every aspect of digitalization, including connected vehicles. To mitigate enormous risks such as hacking entire traffic systems of smart cities, local governments and the automotive industry have to develop many security standards under PQC. 

Eventually, Research and Markets estimate the quantum cryptography market will reach $291.9 million by 2026. Quantum cryptography will play an essential role in the sustainability of connected technologies as a simple flaw may have irreversible consequences. 

Main image courtesy of Daimler,
The first and second in-article images are courtesy of Volkswagen.