Quantum computing and the future of mobility

15th February 2024 by Pratik Mitra | Semiconductors & Electronics

Quantum computing and the future of mobility

Quantum computing is a revolutionary paradigm in the field of computing that utilizes the principles of quantum mechanics to perform certain types of calculations much more efficiently than classical computers. Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that describes the behavior of particles at the quantum level, where traditional classical physics breaks down.

Here are some key differences between quantum computing and classical computing:

Qubits vs. Bits: Classical computers use bits as the basic unit of information, which can be either a 0 or a 1. Quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits. Qubits can exist in multiple states simultaneously, thanks to a quantum property called superposition. This enables quantum computers to perform parallel computations on many possible solutions at the same time.

Superposition: In classical computing, bits are in a definite state of either 0 or 1 at any given time. Quantum computers leverage superposition, allowing qubits to exist in a combination of 0 and 1 states simultaneously. This enables quantum computers to explore multiple solutions to a problem in parallel.

Entanglement: Quantum entanglement is another quantum property where two or more qubits become correlated in such a way that the state of one qubit is directly related to the state of another, regardless of the distance between them.
This entanglement property allows quantum computers to perform certain computations more efficiently than classical computers.

Quantum Gates vs. Classical Gates: Classical computers process information using logical gates (AND, OR, NOT). Quantum computers use quantum gates that manipulate qubits through operations such as superposition and entanglement.

Quantum Parallelism: Quantum computers can process a large number of possibilities simultaneously due to superposition, enabling them to solve certain problems exponentially faster than classical computers.

Quantum Speedup: Quantum computers have the potential to provide significant speedup for specific types of problems, such as factoring large numbers, searching databases, and solving certain optimization problems. However, they may not provide advantages for all types of computations.

Noise and Decoherence: Quantum computers are highly susceptible to environmental noise and decoherence, which can disrupt the delicate quantum states of qubits. Maintaining the stability of qubits is a significant technical challenge in quantum computing.
It's important to note that while quantum computers offer exciting possibilities for certain applications, they are not intended to replace classical computers. Instead, they are seen as complementary, with each type of computer best suited for different types of problems. Quantum computers are still in the early stages of development, and researchers are actively working to address various technical challenges to make them more practical and scalable.

Insights: Quantum computing presents a paradigm shift in computational capabilities, particularly when contrasted with the prevalent high-performance classical computing (HPC) algorithms currently in use. While HPC is adept at handling various computations, ranging from clinical trial evaluations to financial trend analyses and weather pattern predictions, quantum computing (QC) emerges as a superior alternative, promising expedited processing and reduced power consumption. Notably, QC holds the potential to tackle complex challenges across industries that presently lie beyond the reach of HPC.

In the mobility sector, the reluctance of some companies to embrace QC applications stems from the perception that HPC is a more cost-effective solution with comparable problem-solving capabilities, albeit at a slower pace. This viewpoint, however, may be myopic, given the continuous enhancement of QC algorithms and the anticipated decrease in associated costs. Across diverse industries, QC is poised to gain prominence in three key activities where it offers substantial time and cost advantages over HPC, coupled with enhanced accuracy in certain scenarios.

Firstly, in the realm of optimization, QC excels by swiftly evaluating multiple parameters and their combinations to determine optimal outcomes. For instance, autonomous vehicles, navigating alongside human drivers with unpredictable behavior, could benefit from QC's ability to analyze extensive driving data and predict driver reactions. In the short term, QC optimization applications are expected to yield significant benefits.

Secondly, QC's prowess in simulation offers faster and more precise assessments, particularly in evaluating the internal energy structures and interactions of molecules. This capability holds promise for optimizing battery development, creating heat-resistant materials, and advancing alternative aerospace fuels, with applications likely to gain traction over the medium term.

Lastly, QC's impact on hybrid machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) is profound. QC algorithms reduce training time and power requirements for ML/AI models, expediting decision-making processes. In the near term, a hybrid operating model, leveraging HPC for certain problems and reserving QC for specific cases, is a strategic approach. For example, in modeling chemical interactions governed by quantum mechanics, QC demonstrates efficiency by requiring significantly less memory and processing power than its HPC counterpart. While substantial outcomes in AI and ML may take five to ten years to materialize, QC is poised to revolutionize problem-solving methodologies in select cases where its benefits are most pronounced.

Transitioning to quantum computing represents a strategic shift, and while investment in this innovative technology remains comparatively low compared to other advancements, it has been steadily increasing in recent years, primarily fueled by substantial public funding from various governments. In 2022, quantum computing equity investment amounted to approximately $2 billion, notably less than the $5 billion invested in generative AI and the $16 billion allocated to immersive-reality technologies. Despite this, companies are cognizant of the considerable value that quantum computing holds and are actively exploring potential applications, weighing the associated cost and speed advantages.

Several key factors merit consideration as organizations contemplate the adoption of quantum computing:

1. Algorithm Complexity: Quantum computing exhibits intrinsic speed advantages owing to its parallel-processing capabilities, significantly reducing the number of unique calculations required. This is exemplified by its ability to analyze information from unstructured databases more swiftly than traditional high-performance computing (HPC).

2. Execution Time: The total execution time is heavily reliant on hardware and architectures. While quantum computing algorithms may yield solutions with fewer calculations, the execution time might not necessarily surpass that of HPC due to variations in gate speed, read-in/read-out time, and other factors.

3. Energy Requirements: High-performance computing can be power-intensive, consuming up to 25 megawatts, thereby potentially increasing costs and conflicting with sustainability goals. Quantum computing, in contrast, may have negligible energy consumption, particularly when considering cooling systems.

4. Capital and Operational Expenditures: In the short term, quantum computing may entail higher costs than HPC due to the infrastructure and materials required. Notably, many essential quantum computing components are not yet mass-produced, contributing to increased costs. However, as the quantum computing sector matures and downstream suppliers become more prevalent, it is anticipated that quantum computing could become more cost-competitive.

For companies looking to expedite their quantum computing initiatives, three pivotal activities are recommended. Firstly, establishing technology monitoring and capability-building teams is crucial. These dedicated teams can keep abreast of the latest quantum computing developments, encompassing hardware advancements, hybrid integration, coding platforms, and post-quantum cryptography protocols. Beyond accelerating progress, the presence of a quantum computing-focused group signals the strategic importance of this technology throughout the entire organization.

  1. Quantum Algorithms for Traffic Optimization:
    Quantum algorithms, particularly those designed for optimization tasks, have the potential to outperform classical algorithms in certain scenarios. One such algorithm is the Quantum Approximate Optimization Algorithm (QAOA). QAOA is designed to find approximate solutions to combinatorial optimization problems, making it potentially suitable for traffic flow optimization. In the context of traffic management, the optimization problem involves finding the most efficient routes for vehicles to minimize congestion and travel times. Quantum algorithms can process and analyze a multitude of potential solutions simultaneously, exploiting the quantum parallelism inherent in qubits.

    Theoretical Considerations:

    Superposition and Parallelism: Quantum computers can represent multiple possible solutions to a problem simultaneously. This is particularly advantageous for traffic optimization, where the sheer number of variables involved in route planning can be overwhelming for classical computers.
    Entanglement: Quantum entanglement might enable better coordination of traffic signals and routes, allowing for more synchronized and efficient traffic flow. Entangled qubits could represent interconnected aspects of the transportation system, leading to a more holistic optimization.
    Complexity and Scalability: Traffic optimization is a highly complex problem with a large number of variables, making it computationally challenging for classical systems. Quantum computers have the potential to handle this complexity more efficiently, providing solutions to large-scale transportation networks.

    Case Study (Hypothetical):
    Let's consider a hypothetical case study where a quantum computing company collaborates with a city's transportation department to optimize traffic flow.

    Scenario: City X: Facing significant traffic congestion issues.
    Objective: Minimize travel times, reduce congestion, and improve overall transportation efficiency

    Quantum Solution:
    Problem Formulation: Define the transportation network, including roads, intersections, and traffic patterns, as an optimization problem.
    Quantum Algorithm Implementation: Utilize a quantum algorithm, such as QAOA, to find optimal routes for vehicles in real-time.
    Quantum Computer Integration: Integrate a quantum computer into the city's traffic management system to continuously update and optimize routes based on real-time data.
    Monitoring and Evaluation: Regularly monitor the system's performance and evaluate improvements in traffic flow, reduced travel times, and overall transportation efficiency.

    Challenges and Considerations:
    Quantum Hardware Limitations: Quantum computers are still in the early stages of development, and practical, error-corrected quantum hardware is needed for reliable and scalable applications. Data Sensitivity: Quantum algorithms may require specific types of data encoding, and the sensitivity of quantum states to environmental factors could impact the reliability of the optimization results. Integration Complexity: Integrating quantum solutions into existing classical traffic management systems may pose technical challenges and require careful coordination.
    It's crucial to emphasize that while the theoretical potential is promising, the practical implementation of quantum algorithms for traffic optimization is an area of ongoing research and development. Real-world applications will likely emerge as quantum hardware and algorithms mature, and further advancements are made in quantum computing technologies.

  2. Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize logistics and supply chain management by addressing complex optimization challenges. One of the key areas where quantum computing could make a significant impact is in route planning for delivery vehicles. Traditional logistics operations face challenges in efficiently optimizing delivery routes due to the combinatorial nature of the problem, which grows exponentially with the number of delivery points and constraints involved.

    How Quantum Computing Can Help:

    Superposition and Parallelism: Quantum computers leverage the principles of superposition and parallelism. In the context of route optimization, this means that a quantum algorithm could consider multiple potential routes simultaneously, exploring a vast solution space much more efficiently than classical algorithms.

    Optimization Algorithms: Quantum algorithms can be designed to solve complex optimization problems effectively. For route planning, these algorithms can consider various factors such as delivery time windows, traffic conditions, vehicle capacity, and cost constraints.

    Entanglement: Quantum entanglement could be utilized to establish correlations between different variables in the optimization problem. This interconnectedness might lead to more holistic and globally optimized solutions in the logistics and supply chain domain.

    Large-Scale Data Processing: Quantum computers excel at processing large datasets. In logistics, this capability is crucial for handling vast amounts of information related to inventory levels, demand forecasts, real-time traffic conditions, and delivery schedules.

    Solving NP-Hard Problems: Route optimization is considered an NP-hard problem, meaning that as the number of delivery points increases, the problem's complexity grows exponentially. Quantum computing's potential to efficiently tackle such problems could provide a substantial advantage in finding optimal solutions within a reasonable timeframe.

  3. Materials Science for Lightweight Vehicles:
    Quantum computers could contribute to materials science research, helping discover new materials with desired properties for lightweight and energy-efficient vehicles. This could lead to the development of advanced materials that improve fuel efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of transportation. Quantum computing holds the potential to revolutionize materials science, particularly in the design and discovery of novel materials with tailored properties. In the context of lightweight vehicles, quantum computers could significantly accelerate the process of identifying materials that enhance fuel efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

    How Quantum Computing Can Contribute to Materials Science:
    Quantum Simulations: Quantum computers can simulate the behavior of atoms and molecules at a level of detail that classical computers struggle to achieve. This capability is crucial for understanding the quantum mechanical properties of materials, such as electronic structure, bonding, and energy levels.

    Molecular Dynamics Modeling: Quantum computers can perform complex molecular dynamics simulations, enabling researchers to study the interactions between atoms and predict the behavior of materials under different conditions. This information is invaluable for designing materials with specific mechanical, thermal, and electronic properties.

    Optimization of Material Properties: Quantum algorithms can be employed to optimize material properties based on desired criteria. For lightweight vehicles, this might involve designing materials with high strength-to-weight ratios, excellent thermal conductivity, and resistance to corrosion.

    Advanced Computational Chemistry: Quantum computers can solve complex quantum chemistry problems more efficiently than classical computers. This capability allows researchers to explore the electronic structure of materials, predict their stability, and understand how different elements contribute to their overall properties.

    Searching Materials Databases: Quantum computers could search vast materials databases for potential candidates that meet specific criteria for lightweight and energy-efficient vehicles. This could significantly speed up the discovery process compared to traditional trial-and-error approaches.

    Case Study (Hypothetical):
    Scenario: Quantum-Assisted Material Discovery for Lightweight Vehicles
    Challenge: An automotive manufacturer is seeking to develop lightweight materials for its vehicles to improve fuel efficiency and reduce environmental impact. Traditional materials discovery processes are time-consuming and expensive.

    Quantum Solution:
    The manufacturer partners with a quantum computing company specializing in materials science. Together, they develop quantum algorithms to simulate the properties of various materials at the quantum level, with a focus on lightweight and durable characteristics.

    Quantum simulations are conducted to model the behavior of atoms and molecules, predicting the properties of materials under different conditions. The quantum algorithm optimizes for key attributes such as strength, weight, and thermal conductivity.


    Discovery of Novel Materials: The quantum-assisted approach identifies previously undiscovered materials with exceptional lightweight and energy-efficient properties.
    Accelerated Development Time: The materials discovery process is significantly accelerated, reducing the time required to bring new lightweight materials to market.
    Cost Savings: The quantum-assisted approach minimizes the need for extensive laboratory experimentation, leading to cost savings in the research and development phase.

    Challenges and Considerations:

    Quantum Hardware Constraints: The practical implementation of quantum algorithms for materials discovery relies on the availability of sufficiently powerful and error-corrected quantum computers, which are still in the early stages of development. Integration with Classical Methods:
    Quantum approaches need to be seamlessly integrated with classical computational methods and experimental techniques to provide a comprehensive understanding of material properties.
    Validation and Experimental Verification: While quantum simulations provide valuable insights, experimental verification is crucial to validate the predicted properties of new materials. Ethical and Environmental Considerations: The development of advanced materials should also consider ethical and environmental aspects, ensuring that the manufacturing processes and disposal of materials are sustainable and environmentally friendly.
    While the hypothetical case study demonstrates the potential benefits of quantum computing in materials science for lightweight vehicles, it's important to acknowledge that practical implementation is an ongoing area of research. The collaboration between materials scientists, quantum computing experts, and industry stakeholders will play a vital role in realizing the transformative potential of quantum-assisted materials discovery.

4.Traffic Prediction and Management:

Quantum computing's ability to process vast amounts of data could be leveraged for more accurate traffic prediction models. This could enable better-informed decisions in real-time traffic management, leading to reduced travel times and enhanced overall mobility experiences.
Quantum computing's capacity for processing vast datasets and solving complex optimization problems positions it as a potential game-changer in the realm of traffic prediction and management. Here's a deeper analysis of how quantum computing could be leveraged for more accurate traffic prediction models and improved real-time traffic management:

How Quantum Computing Can Contribute to Traffic Prediction and Management:

Big Data Processing: Quantum computers excel at handling large-scale datasets. In the context of traffic management, this capability allows for the simultaneous analysis of various data sources, including historical traffic patterns, real-time sensor data, weather conditions, and events.

Quantum Machine Learning: Quantum machine learning algorithms could be employed to develop more sophisticated traffic prediction models. Quantum computers could explore complex patterns and correlations within the data, leading to more accurate predictions of traffic congestion, bottlenecks, and optimal routes.

Optimization Algorithms: Quantum algorithms designed for optimization problems could assist in real-time traffic management. These algorithms might dynamically adjust traffic signal timings, optimize routes, and allocate resources to minimize congestion and improve overall traffic flow.

Simulation of Traffic Scenarios: Quantum computers can simulate and model complex traffic scenarios with a level of detail that classical computers may struggle to achieve. This capability is valuable for predicting the impact of changes in traffic management strategies and infrastructure on overall mobility.

5.Battery and Energy Storage Optimization:

Quantum computing might be applied to optimize battery design and energy storage systems. This could lead to the development of more efficient and longer-lasting batteries for electric vehicles, addressing one of the key challenges in the adoption of electric mobility. Quantum computing's potential in battery and energy storage optimization lies in its ability to tackle complex quantum chemistry problems and perform efficient optimization of material properties. Here's a deeper analysis of how quantum computing could contribute to the development of more efficient and longer-lasting batteries for electric vehicles:

How Quantum Computing Can Contribute to Battery Optimization:

Quantum Chemistry Simulations: Quantum computers can simulate the quantum states of atoms and molecules more accurately than classical computers. In the context of battery materials, quantum chemistry simulations can provide insights into the electronic structure, energy levels, and reactions within battery components.

Material Discovery and Design: Quantum algorithms can explore a vast space of potential materials and their combinations, optimizing for specific properties such as charge/discharge rates, energy density, and stability. This can accelerate the discovery of new materials for electrodes, electrolytes, and other components critical to battery performance.

Electrolyte Optimization: Quantum computing can aid in optimizing the properties of electrolytes, which play a crucial role in determining the efficiency and safety of batteries. This includes predicting ion transport behavior and interactions within the electrolyte solution.

Battery Cycle Life Prediction: Quantum simulations can contribute to predicting the degradation mechanisms within batteries over multiple charge-discharge cycles. Understanding these degradation processes at the quantum level can guide the development of materials that enhance battery durability and extend cycle life.

Optimization of Charging Protocols: Quantum algorithms can be utilized to optimize charging protocols, considering factors such as temperature, current density, and voltage profiles. This optimization can lead to faster and more energy-efficient charging without compromising battery health.

Quantum computing and the future of mobility


The potential applications of quantum computing in various aspects of mobility, including traffic management, logistics, materials science for lightweight vehicles, and battery optimization for electric vehicles, are highly promising. Quantum computing's ability to handle complex optimization problems, process vast amounts of data, and simulate quantum phenomena opens up new possibilities for addressing challenges in the transportation and mobility sectors.

However, it's crucial to note that practical implementations are still in the early stages, and the development of large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computers remains a significant challenge. Quantum technologies must be seamlessly integrated with existing classical systems, and experimental validation is essential to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of quantum-assisted solutions. The hypothetical case studies presented illustrate the transformative potential of quantum computing in optimizing traffic flow, enhancing logistics and supply chain operations, designing advanced materials for lightweight vehicles, and improving battery efficiency for electric vehicles. These examples showcase the promise of quantum computing in revolutionizing mobility, making it more efficient, sustainable, and technologically advanced.

As quantum computing continues to advance, collaborations between quantum experts, researchers, and industry professionals will play a crucial role in translating theoretical potential into practical solutions. While challenges persist, the ongoing exploration of quantum-assisted technologies in mobility signals a promising future for addressing complex issues and shaping a more efficient and sustainable transportation landscape.

Pratik Mitra

Research Associate

A dynamic market research specialist with expertise in industry research, market assessment, competitive intelligence, and strategic market intelligence to provide information for business decisions.

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