A surprising quantum front-runner–driverless cars

Big auto companies are tinkering with quantum computers in hopes they can solve problems too hefty for today’s machines, from cooking up bigger batteries to designing lighter vehicles. And as they experiment, a host of other companies are lingering on the sidelines, watching for the right moment to jump in.

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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.