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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How self-driving buses can ease traffic woes

WEpods shuttle
Self-driving electric buses known as “WEpods” ride the roads in the Netherlands. (Credit: WEpods)

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Self-driving cars are all well and good for cross-country trips, but what Madrona Venture Group’s Tom Alberg really wants to see is a self-driving bus that can take him on a winery tour.

“I’m very keen on the idea of navigating a wine van pool, going around between the different wineries,” the influential investment group’s managing director joked.

And there’s a chance Alberg may get his wish, or something close to it, sooner rather than later.

He and other stakeholders in the region’s transportation future gathered at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Conference Center on Dec. 2 for the 2016 Advanced Transportation Technologies Conference, organized by the Center for Advanced Transportation and Energy Solutions.

Just after his talk, two Bellevue city council members and Bellevue Mayor John Stokes bent Alberg’s ear about their plans to make the Seattle region an incubator for autonomous transit.

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