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VW IT experts use quantum computing for traffic flow optimisation

In a first research project, IT experts from Volkswagen have already successfully developed and tested a traffic flow optimisation algorithm on a D-Wave quantum computer.

Dr. Martin Hofmann, CIO of the VW Group, said: “Quantum computing is the next generation of supercomputing and can bring us tremendous progress in all key areas of IT and digitalisation. In strategic cooperation with D-Wave, we are learning to make effective use of the strengths of a quantum computer. We are taking a further major step towards the digital future of the VW Group.”

Robert Ewald, President of D-Wave International, said: “In a short period of time the experts at VW were able to successfully create and test an algorithm on our quantum computer for an important type of optimisation problem. We look forward to seeing great progress in the future as they apply their automotive and data science expertise to increasingly difficult real-world problems.”

In the first research project, data scientists and big data experts from VW, working with data from 10,000 public taxis in Beijing, have successfully shown that they can optimise traffic flow in the mega-metropolis using a quantum computer. Further projects are to follow in the course of cooperation with D-Wave. Initially, the main focus is on the further development of specialist expertise and entrepreneurially meaningful applications.

Dr. Florian Neukart, Principal Data Scientist at the VW Group IT Code Lab in San Francisco, said: “Our first traffic flow optimisation project in Beijing successfully shows how an algorithm on a quantum computer can guide vehicles in a metropolis in such an intelligent way that congestion is avoided. The results give us confidence for further applications on the quantum computer. We place considerable emphasis on the open source approach. Our work is to be transparent and to allow verification by third parties.”

The VW Group is the first automaker to work intensively with quantum computing technology. Group IT expects a wide range of application possibilities especially in the areas of autonomous driving, the robotic enterprise (AI-supported process control), the smart factory, machine learning and intelligent mobility solutions.

Quantum computers can solve highly complex problems many times faster than conventional supercomputers. The computing principle of a quantum computer is especially well-suited for this project because it natively solves optimisation problems. In simplified terms, an optimisation problem considers how a specific resource (such as time, money or energy) can be used in the best possible way in a certain scenario. The complexity of the task and therefore the computing capacity required grow exponentially with the number of factors to be considered, taking conventional digital computers to their limits.

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