Volkswagen Group has been working on a pilot project that uses a quantum computer to calculate the best route for local buses.
During last week’s WebSummit technology conference in the city of Lisbon, the company equipped nine buses with a new traffic management system that uses a D-Wave quantum computer and calculates the fastest route for each of the buses individually and almost in real-time.
Volkswagen says that the technology can significantly reduce passengers’ travel times, even during peak traffic periods, and improve traffic flow.
There are two components to the Volkswagen traffic management system: passenger number prediction and route optimisation by quantum computing.
Passenger number prediction is based on data analytics that identifies stops with especially high passenger numbers at certain times. The idea is that bus operators could add temporary links to their scheduled services to serve stops with the largest passenger numbers.
Meanwhile, a quantum algorithm for route optimisation between stops calculates the fastest route for each individual bus in the fleet and optimises it. In contrast to conventional navigation services, the quantum algorithm assigns each bus an individual route. This way, each bus can drive around traffic bottlenecks along the route at an early stage and avoid traffic jams before they even arise.
A further benefit is that, as the buses travel along individually optimised routes which are calculated to ensure they don’t cause congestion themselves, there will be a general improvement in traffic flow within the city.
Volkswagen is considering further pilot projects for cities in Germany and other European countries. The company believes that its traffic optimisation system could be offered to public transport companies, taxi companies and fleet operators.