People who attend the Web Summit in Lisbon are familiar with how clogged the Portuguese city's streets get after thousands exit the event, where only one main traffic artery is available to ferry away visitors. This year, however, attendees will be able to download an app from Volkswagen Group and Canadian tech company D-Wave to predict the best route to any given destination. Real-time data is employed to mitigate the chaos, but the real purpose is to broaden awareness of the quantum computer that powers the calculations.
By optimizing the flow of people away from the event, the proprietary software helps improve urban productivity and reduce air pollution. "We would like to sell this to anyone interested in getting rid of congestion and reducing accidents," Volkswagen Group Principal Scientist Florian Neukart said. "We have already started to talk to different cities."
As innovation becomes increasingly software-driven, carmakers able to derive new revenue streams from endless lines of encoded ones and zeros will enjoy a competitive edge over rivals. Mining that data requires not just computing power, but speed, and that is the decisive advantage of these quantum machines. Because of their capacity to perform thousands of operations in parallel for a fraction of the energy, they can solve problems in seconds for which digital computers would need days, months or years and enormous amounts of costly electricity.