Hitachi Using Quantum Annealing to Optimize Train Operations
(Nikkei.Asia) Japanese industrial giant Hitachi is developing a system using quasi-quantum computing technology to automate and optimize train operations, Nikkei has learned.
Calculating crew assignments in transportation has long been considered difficult to automate with existing binary computers. But Hitachi has automated the process by applying “quantum annealing,” a process that quickly calculates a vast number of variables to find the optimal combination.
Hitachi tested the system and created crew schedules in only 30 minutes — a process that normally takes several days.
Japan lags behind the U.S. and China in the practical application of quantum technology. Hitachi’s move to use the technology in the transportation sector could speed its adoption across Japan.
Japanese businesses are trying to catch up with the U.S. and China, which are leading in the practical application of quantum technology. Toshiba, NTT Group and others in September jointly launched Quantum Strategic industry Alliance for Revolution, or Q-STAR, to expand the use of the technology. Fujitsu is also aiming to leverage it to reduce debris in space.
Japan’s railroad industry has a wide range of needs that can be addressed by the application of quantum technology. According to Yano Research Institute, Japan’s quantum computing market stood at 13.9 billion yen in fiscal 2021 and is expected to hit 294 billion yen in 2030.