(CNET.com) Ford Motor Company has partnered with Microsoft using “quantum-inspired” technology — though not an actual quantum computer — to test a traffic-routing algorithm that cut Seattle traffic by 73% and shortened commuting times by 8% in a simulation of 5,000 cars. Ford didn’t actually use a quantum computer for its Seattle simulation, only a regular computer running a quantum computer algorithm repurposed for classical hardware, Microsoft said.
Traffic routing is important for a company focusing not just on individual cars but on mobility more broadly. “Our growing quantum computing team is working with Microsoft and others to investigate how this technology can be used in areas ranging from robotics to aerodynamics,” Ford Chief Technology Officer Ken Washington said in a blog post Tuesday. “While we’re still in the early stages of quantum computing development, encouraging progress has been made that can help us take what we’ve learned in the field and start to apply it to problems we want to solve today, while scaling to more complex problems tomorrow.”
In the Seattle simulation, Ford pitted a conventional “selfish” routing system, in which each car calculated its own best route on its own, against a “balanced” traffic routing system that took all the cars’ plans into account. Calculating the balanced approach took 20 seconds.