During the summit, nine public transit buses under the name "Quantum Shuttle" took guests from the airport to a conference venue. - Photo courtesy of Volkswagen.

During the summit, nine public transit buses under the name "Quantum Shuttle" took guests from the airport to a conference venue.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen.

Volkswagen demonstrated its new optimized traffic routing technology, designed to identify the fastest travel routes, during a web summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal, and will be able accommodate fleets of varying sizes.

During the summit nine public transit buses used a traffic management system developed by Volkswagen scientists in the United States and Germany, powered by a D-Wave quantum computer to calculate the fastest travel routes individually and in near-real time.

During the summit, nine public transit buses under the name "Quantum Shuttle" took guests from the airport to the venue of the downtown conference, with 26 stops. The algorithm calculated the fastest route for each individual bus in the fleet and optimized it in near-real time. Through tablets in every bus, drivers were able to avoid traffic bottlenecks along the route, dodging traffic jams before they even arose.

The system combined classical machine learning for predicting traffic flow and optimizing the distribution of vehicles so that its changes minimized the effect on traffic elsewhere.

"Traffic in major cities is highly complex due to a large number of road users," said Abdallah Shanti, Global CIO Volkswagen Brand and CIO Region Americas. “The computing power that would be needed to optimize the flow of traffic is exorbitant. "That's why we've tried to solve this problem with D-Wave's quantum computers."

Volkswagen’s system relies on the D-Wave quantum annealer, a different kind of machine than the universal quantum computers under development by other firms, including Google. Quantum annealers can only solve very specific distribution problems, and researchers at VW Data Labs in San Francisco and Munich believe traffic optimization can be one of them.

Further pilot projects in cities around the world are already being considered.

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