VW to optimise traffic using quantum computer

By CARSIFU | 31 October 2019

LISBON: Volkswagen is launching in Lisbon the world’s first pilot project for traffic optimisation using a quantum computer.

The group is equipping MAN buses of the public transport provider Carris with a traffic management system developed in-house. This system uses a D-Wave quantum computer and calculates the fastest route for each of the nine participating buses individually and almost in real-time.

This way, passengers’ travel times is set to be significantly reduced, even during peak traffic periods, and traffic flow would be improved. Volkswagen is testing its traffic optimisation system during the WebSummit technology conference here from Nov 4 to 8. During the conference, buses will carry thousands of passengers through the city traffic here.

The Volkswagen traffic management system includes two components – passenger number prediction and route optimisation by quantum computing. For predictions, the development team from Volkswagen is using data analytics tools to identify stops with especially high passenger numbers at certain times.

A quantum computer from D-Wave.
A quantum computer from D-Wave.

For this purpose, anonymised geo-coordinates and passenger flow data are used. The objective is to offer as many people as possible tailor-made transport possibilities and to ensure optimum use of the bus fleet.

For the pilot project in Lisbon, 26 stops were selected and connected to form four bus links. For example, one of these runs from the WebSummit conference facility to the Marqués de Pombal traffic node in the city center.

The Volkswagen team intends to continue the development of this prediction component. The idea is that bus operators should add temporary links to their scheduled services to serve stops with the largest passenger numbers. This would be a meaningful approach for major events in the city area, for example.

The Volkswagen experts have developed a quantum algorithm for route optimisation between the stops. This algorithm calculates the fastest route for each individual bus in the fleet and optimizes it almost on a real-time basis. 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.

The experts from Volkswagen expect this development to have a further positive effect. As the buses travel along individually optimised routes which are calculated to ensure that they can never cause congestion themselves, there will be a general improvement in traffic flow within the city.

Volkswagen intends to develop the system to market maturity.