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Google, Nasa to work with city's D-Wave

Burnaby's quantum computing company, D-Wave Systems Inc., will help astronauts get to space.

Burnaby's quantum computing company, D-Wave Systems Inc., will help astronauts get to space.

D-Wave made an announcement in May that its D-Wave Two computer will be installed at the new Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, which is a collaboration between NASA, Google and Universities Space Research Association.

Researchers in this collaboration are expecting to use the 512-qubit quantum computer to advance machine learning and develop applications for a broad range of complex science problems such as web search, speech recognition, planning and scheduling, search for exo-planets, and support mission control centre operations.

"Three world class organizations and their research teams will use the D-Wave Two to develop real world applications and to support research from leading academic institutions," said Vern Brownwell, D-Wave's CEO, in a media release. "This joint effort shows that quantum computing has expanded beyond the theoretical realm and into the worlds of business and technology."

The three organizations selected D-Wave's new computer after it passed several tests, which either met or exceeded the performance specifications, according to the media release.

"(High performance computing) buyers and users are looking for ways to speed up their applications beyond what contemporary technologies can deliver," said Steve Conway, International Data Corporation (IDC) research vice president for high performance computing. "IDC believes organizations that depend on leading-edge technology would do well to begin exploring the possibilities of quantum computing."

The Burnaby-based company has started installing its new computer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, California.

D-Wave was founded in 1999 by UBC scientists. It is the world's first commercial quantum computing company that has made computers using quantum mechanical theories.

Its investor base includes In-Q-Tel (representing the CIA), Goldman Sachs, and others - plus it sold its first computer to Lockheed Martin.

Each system has a price tag of $10 million, is hundreds of thousands of times faster than a conventional computer and requires a temperature colder than deep space to work.

What sets a quantum computer apart from a regular one, is its ability to solve optimization problems such as machine learning, cancer detection and image-labelling, according to vice-president of processor development, Jeremy Hilton, in a previous interview with the NOW.

For more information about the Burnaby company, visit