Microsoft and Ford team up to help ease traffic on roads

Microsoft and Ford Motor Company have announced that they have been working together for years to figure out ways to ease congestion on roads. Ford says that lots of drivers try and use GPS systems to route them around traffic-congested areas. The issue is that the current navigation systems will route drivers in a vacuum without considering routes other drivers in the area are also planning to use.

The result is that hundreds of drivers end up being given the same alternate route leading to more traffic congestion. Ford and Microsoft want to create a navigation system that considers other drivers. The idea is that if 100 drivers ask for an alternative route away from a traffic jam, the navigation system would consider all of the other drivers who have asked for an alternative route and give out different routes to ease congestion on the new routes as well.

The big challenge for this that Microsoft and Ford have been trying to work around is the massive amount of computing power that is needed. Conventional computers can't muster that sort of power. That has led Ford and Microsoft to look at quantum computing. While that tech isn't there yet, we are in the early stages of quantum computing development.

Ford and Microsoft have simulated thousands of vehicles and the impact on congestion that can be seen by using quantum computing and a navigation system that considers more than just one driver. Simulations used as many as 5,000 vehicles. In the simulation, each of the vehicles had ten different routes available to choose from, with the vehicles all simultaneously requesting routes across Metro Seattle.

The team found that its balanced routing system resulted in a 73 percent improvement in total congestion when compared to so-called "selfish" routing where the routes were handed out without considering others. The average commute time was reduced by 8% in the simulations, which would save over 55,000 hours annually across the simulated fleet.