Quantum computing to develop a system for managing traffic better in cities
Quantum physics may not be something many of us understand in depth – but it might soon be making your bus turn up on time. Car manufacturer Volkwagen and quantum computing company D-Wave have been using quantum computing to develop a system for managing traffic better in cities.
By capturing more timely and accurate traffic information and using it effectively, the aim is to improve the efficiency of fleet services like taxis and buses, reduce waiting times, and better meet passengers’ needs.
As self-driving cars become a reality, the algorithm could also help them find the quickest routes and reduce jams. At the moment, these type of traffic models are run by supercomputers – the cleverest computers we have at the moment.
However, they are only capable of processing so many tasks at a time – whereas quantum computers, which work using the principles of quantum physics, can complete highly complex tasks much faster, and sometimes solve problems that supercomputers can’t. And traffic, by its very nature, is made up of a lot of objects that are constantly moving. The idea is that quantum computing can replace forecasting of urban traffic volumes, transport demand and travel times with precise calculations.
Data scientists, computer linguists and software engineers from Volkswagen are working together at IT labs in San Francisco and Munich – collaborating also with telecommunications company Orange, data science specialists Teralytics and Google.
First, they used conventional computers to analyse movement data from smartphones and transmitters in vehicles and calculate traffic flows and numbers of people being transported.
Then a quantum algorithm uses the data to manage traffic and send vehicles where the demand is, so that taxis and buses aren’t driving around without passengers, passengers aren’t waiting for a long time, and there are enough vehicles where they are needed.
The two companies presented their project at the annual Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon last week.
Although at the moment, it’s still very much just an idea, Volkswagen sees it as a commercial venture that could be sold to cities. It should be suitable for a city of any size, and the company says it would like to test the algorithm in Barcelona, where good traffic information is already available.
Florian Neukart, principal scientist at Volkswagen’s CODE lab in San Francisco, explained: “Public transport organisations and taxi companies in large cities are highly interested in managing their fleets efficiently.”
If your work involves helping public transport run on time,you’re likely to become extremely popular – and you may well be able to get government funding through the research and development tax credits scheme,either the SME scheme or the RDEC scheme for larger companies.As research and development tax specialists, we can do almost all the work on your r&d tax claim for you – so you don’t have to take time away from working out why there are so many leaves on the line. Take a look at our r&d tax credits calculator to see if you could be eligible – or call us at our Manchester office on 0161 2981010.