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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The enormous promise of quantum computing has lured big early investments from finance, aerospace, defense, and other tech-soaked industries. But an unexpected player is neck-and-neck with these front-runners: carmakers.
The big picture: This new generation of computers, built on measuring the inscrutable activity of tiny, tiny particles, is at a drawn-out inflection point. Quantum computers are inching from theory toward practice, driven by a first wave of companies playing the long game, betting that the hires and investments they make today — plus the patents they file — will pay off years down the line.
But all of these are maybes. The research suggests that quantum computers will be able to do all these things — but they haven't yet.
Despite the uncertainty, automakers have been hiring quantum experts and launching early experiments.
What's worrying them: Companies searching history for clues of how to proceed see a cautionary tale in the sudden explosion of artificial intelligence, says Matt Johnson, QC Ware's CEO.
"We want to make sure we have a group of people within Volkswagen who can work with these systems when we're ready to tackle this industrially relevant problems," says Florian Neukart, the scientist who heads VW's 15-person quantum effort. Plus, he says: "We want to generate IP. We think now is the time."
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty
A primary question that's hung over the nascent electric car industry has been the depth of consumer demand. Motorists have been buying lots of Teslas, but can electrics capture a sustained mass market?
What's happening: On Wednesday, Tesla shares plunged when the company announced a 31% year-on-year plummet in quarterly vehicle deliveries. High-end S and X models dropped by almost half. (Shares closed slightly up today, but they are still substantially down from earlier in the year.)
But the first-quarter plunge in deliveries — following the exhaustion of Tesla's federal vehicle subsidy quota — may suggest that cool only goes so far.
A thought bubble from Axios' Joann Mueller: "All automakers are going to be bringing EVs to market in the next few years, whether customers want them or not. I think they will end up being discounted (both because of the tax incentives and just to get people interested) and the question is whether there is a tipping point at which natural demand will take off."
Photo: Junko Kimura/Getty
Artist's illustration of a planet disintegrating in orbit around a white dwarf star. Photo: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty
Nothing says "vintage" quite like a pair of washed-out jeans riddled with artfully placed holes … that were burned off by a high-powered laser.
Kaveh writes: That's how denim giant Levi's will soon start breaking in its jeans.
Laser weathering will be implemented in all of Levi's supplier factories next year, Bain reports.