The government of New South Wales will investigate the use of quantum computers to run its transportation network, Australian media are reporting.
The government will establish a center aimed at studying how quantum computers can be used in transportation, said Rob Stokes, NSW Transport Minister. The Centre of Quantum Technology will be built in Sydney’s Tech Central and be administered by an advisory panel which includes NSW quantum pioneer and professor Michelle Simmons.
“The recovery from the pandemic makes it even more important because it’s harder to predict,” Stokes told the media. “Quantum computing can actually help us to deploy resources far more accurately, and we genuinely don’t know what the long-term impacts of the pandemic are going to be on travel patterns and on travel preferences.”
One of the hopes is that quantum computing can organize transportation more effectively reducing delays. Stokes added that he believes quantum may lead to a “self-healing” network that could interact with self-driving cars, artificial intelligence and smart sensors.
“While this might sound like the stuff of science fiction, Transport for NSW is making quantum computing a reality. It has the potential to solve problems on the network in real time by instantly recalculating timetables and routes,” Stokes said.
Simmons said the use of quantum technology may be transformative for transportation — and beyond.
“It’s a very powerful, transformational technology. It allows us to solve problems in real time that would otherwise take thousands of years,” Simmons said in The Age. “Anyone who travels, whether it’s by car, train, plane, you always want to minimise your time waiting around. You want things to be efficient. Some of the problems are so complex that classical computers can’t solve them in a timeframe that’s real for them.”
Michael Biercuk, Sydney University Professor and Q-CTRL founder, described how quantum computing works and how it relates to transportation problems. (Learn more about Q-CTRL at The Quantum Insider.)
“We have the ability to put information into individual atoms, or individual circuits of special materials called superconductors, and when we do that we have a way to represent all the different ways that parts of the transport network are connected together,” he said.
New South Wales in the southeastern tip of Australia and includes major transportation hubs, such as Sydney, Australia, the country’s second largest city.