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Volkswagen is using quantum computers to optimize the traffic flow

Posted November 1, 2019

Quantum computers are here to stay. They can be used in a variety of different ways, but Volkswagen is about to use them to improve the traffic flow in Lisbon during the WebSummit technology conference on from November 4 to 8. Nine buses, 26 stops, four bus links and thousands of passengers – what can quantum computers help with that?

Volkswagen’s Traffic management system should reduce congestion, optimize utilization of the public transportation fleets and reduce waiting times for passengers. Image credit: Volkswagen

Actually, quantum computers can help a lot. Volkswagen is going to employ a D-Wave quantum computer to calculate the fastest route for each of the nine participating MAN buses individually and almost in real-time. Visitors and participants of the conference are likely to get stuck in traffic and Volkswagen traffic management system should help avoiding that as much as possible. Passengers will be happy to navigate the capital of Portugal quicker, while for Volkswagen it is a great opportunity to test its abilities to employ quantum computers and traffic management systems of tomorrow.

The system consists of two main parts – passenger number prediction and route optimization by quantum computing. The idea is that there would be temporary link between the busiest stops established on the go. This would shorten waiting times and help people get where they need to be quicker.

The Volkswagen traffic management system will also help navigating traffic, as computer will calculate the route that is the most time-efficient. These predictions will include traffic information, while passenger predictions will be based upon anonymized geo-coordinates and passenger flow data. Not only this will help people navigate the busy city, but it will also ensure proper utilization of the bus network – buses are less likely to drive around semi-empty, while many passengers are still waiting.

This time only 9 buses will be circling 26 bus stops in 4 major bus links. Quantum computing will ensure that buses don’t cause congestion themselves. More importantly, on a bigger scale this would help reducing congestion in the cities, because buses would simply be removed from that problem.

Vern Brownell, CEO of D-Wave, said: “D-Wave has been focused on designing systems that enable quantum application development and deliver business value. Volkswagen’s pilot project is among the first that we know of to make production use of a quantum computer, and their ongoing innovation brings us closer than ever to realizing true, practical quantum computing.”

This is not the first time Volkswagen is trying to optimize traffic. In 2016 Volkswagen demonstrated congestion-free route optimization for taxis in the Chinese capital Beijing. This is a result of continuous efforts and partnerships with D-Wave and Google. And this is not just some kind of a mental exercise or concept development – Volkswagen does believe that its traffic management system can be lead to a commercial product, which could be offered to public transport companies, taxi companies or fleet operators.


Source: Volkswagen

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