(GeekWire) Tesearchers at Ford and Microsoft teamed up last year to develop new quantum-style approaches to help reduce Seattle’s traffic congestion.
Traffic apps tend to send individual drivers along the same routes. Even when congestion on one route triggers the app to suggest an alternate, that alternate route soon becomes jammed up as well.
That sort of optimization problem is tailor-made for quantum computers. Instead of processing bits of data as a succession of ones and zeroes, quantum computers work with quantum bits — or qubits — that can represent multiple values until the computation’s results are read out. Such an approach can sift through a multitude of possibilities that would bog down the quickest classical computer.
For their optimization experiment, the experts at Ford and Microsoft used algorithms that simulate the quantum approach on classical computers. “We don’t have to wait until quantum computers are deployed on a wide scale to take advantage of the technology,” Julie Love, Microsoft’s senior director for quantum computing, explained in the Medium post. “Using world-class quantum algorithms customized for specific problems, we can bring measurable improvements and drive change that can impact people’s lives.”
the results were promising enough to lead Ford to expand its partnership with Microsoft. The next phase of the traffic study will look at scenarios that come closer to real-world situations.