Quantum computer: Federal government starts research offensive

The future belongs to quantum computers: The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has announced a strategic initiative for quantum computing. For this field, the ministry wants to make an additional 300 million euros available in the coming years.

The superfast computers with quantum technology are still a dream of the future. Research has been going on for over 20 years. Google and IBM are probably world leaders in this area. Google’s Sycamore quantum processor demonstrated its quantum superiority for the first time in October of last year.

In contrast to today’s computers, these computers can calculate several processes at the same time. They work with so-called qubits, abbreviated to quantum bits. Current computers work with bits that can have a state of either 0 or 1. Qubits can have these two states at the same time – or even an infinite number of states in between. However, the stability of the system and a high error rate remain a problem. Conventional use with series production will therefore probably still take more than ten years.

In order to ensure that German companies can also benefit from the new technology, the Research Ministry now wants to fund projects in the field of quantum information technology with up to 300 million euros. Sketches can be submitted until February 29, 2020. Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek is convinced that the race for technology for the quantum computer has not yet ended. In this legislative period, 650 million euros are planned for basic research and marketing.

The new computers are said to perform real computing miracles. Complex tasks for which today’s computers would need up to 100,000 years would take the new computers only a few minutes to solve. But that also means that a quantum computer could crack any password, no matter how secure, within seconds. New procedures would therefore be absolutely necessary. At the same time, these computers could solve any route simulation with multiple locations and additional unknowns within minutes. A very attractive idea for many logistics and transport companies.

Read more: Die zweite Quantenrevolution maßgeblich mitgestalten (BMBF)

Ralf Johanning

Ralf Johanning studied political science and works as a freelance journalist. For over ten years now he reports on the transportation and logistics industry. The priorities include topics such as telematics, software, and ICT. In 2006 the trained editor, Head, and Press Officer founded the editorial office Alte Schule with his partner Ann-Christin Wimber.

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