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Microsoft and Ford use quantum traffic strategy

Mercer Mess in Seattle
Snarled traffic in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Traffic congestion in Seattle can get so bad that it seems as if you need a next-generation quantum computer to make sense of it — and that’s exactly what Microsoft and Ford are aiming to do.

The quantum frontier hasn’t yet reached the point at which a general-purpose computer can solve the mother of all traffic jams. But the two companies are using quantum-inspired simulations to address the optimization problem that arises when all the drivers are following the same app-generated driving directions.

“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,” Ken Washington, chief technology officer at Ford Motor Company, wrote today in a Medium post.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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