High-Tech Problem Solvers

Microsoft, Ford team to use quantum-inspired technology to understand traffic congestion

Ford has teamed up with Microsoft to study traffic congestion.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Computers are everywhere. We wear them on our wrists, carry them in our pockets, and rely on them to function in a modern world. As computing evolves, automakers like Ford are using high-level technology to work to solve everyday problems.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has partnered with Microsoft to simulate the impact thousands of vehicles traveling has on congestion. They're early in to the project, still developing the quantum computing aspects of the project, which will take the problems of today and scale them to predict the problems of tomorrow. Then, the two companies will use the information to dive deeper into possible solutions to those problems.

"Quantum computing has the potential to transform the auto industry and the way we move," said Julie Love, senior director of quantum computing business development, Microsoft. "To do that we need to have a deep understanding of the problems that companies like Ford want to solve, which is why collaborations like these are so important."

When rush hour happens and congestion picks up, it's not uncommon for drivers to use various apps to change their route using traffic apps like Waze. However, these apps often route drivers the same way, creating congestion on side streets. Ideally, new computing would work to balance those routes to allow the least amount of congestion possible on all streets.

Dr. Ken Washington, Chief Technology Officer, Ford Motor Company described the problem and possible solution in a recent post on Medium.

Simply put, it's not feasible to have traditional computers find the optimal solution from a huge number of possible route assignments in a timely manner. That's where quantum computing can help. Essentially, existing digital computers translate information into either a 1 or a 0, otherwise known as a bit. But in a quantum computer, information can be processed by a quantum bit (or a qubit) that can simultaneously exist in two different states before it gets measured. Upon measurement, however, either a 1 or a 0 appears randomly and the probability for each is governed by a set of rules called quantum mechanics.

This ultimately enables a quantum computer to process information with a faster speed. Attempts to simulate some specific features of a quantum computer on non-quantum hardware have led to quantum-inspired technology — powerful algorithms that mimic certain quantum behaviors and run on specialized conventional hardware. That enables organizations to start realizing some benefits before fully-scaled quantum hardware becomes available.

The partnership between Microsoft and Ford started in 2018 to specifically focus on reducing traffic congestion in Seattle, a city undergoing tremendous rapid growth that is confined in its footprint by waterways and mountains.

The collaboration tested numerous scenarios in their efforts to solve Seattle's traffic congestion, with as many as 5,000 vehicles. Each vehicle in the scenario had 10 different route choices. In 20 seconds, computing software weighed each of those suggestions and delivered a route that resulted in a 73 percent improvement in total congestion compared to traditional route suggestion methods. The result was an eight percent drop in the time of the commute.

Ford remains hopeful that future advances in quantum computing will further the company's mission to work to reduce congestion.

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Carvana has revealed which used cars customers are searching for the most.

Photo courtesy of Carvana

Used car seller Carvana has released its list of the used vehicles that are most sought after by Texas shoppers. The list is mostly made up of the usual suspects - perennial best-sellers in their class. Cars, trucks, and SUVs are all represented in the rankings.

One of the most popular models is the Ford F-150, a full-size truck that is the best-selling vehicle in the country. Its rivals, the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Toyota Tundra, and Nissan Titan do not make the list.

Despite being the best-selling new SUV, the Toyota RAV4 does not make thIs list of used vehicles in high demand in Texas. However, its competition does. The Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Ford Escape are popular in Texas's biggest cities.

Carvana has vending machine locations in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. The company can also deliver vehicles to customers. What's popular in those towns? They have broken the list down by city. You can find Houston's most popular here, Austin's here, San Antonio's info here, and Dallas picks here.

Here are the top five used vehicles Texas shoppers are searching for.

No. 5 - Ford Fusion

2019 Ford Fusion


Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Fusion is a comfortable commuter car. It is available in a hybrid version, which achieves excellent fuel economy. All Fusion models share a similar interior design with comfortable seating and an easy-to-use infotainment system.

No. 4 - Nissan Altima

2020 Nissan Altima

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Altima was recently redesigned but even if you go for an older model, you'll still be getting a comfortable and fuel-efficient midsize car.

No. 3 - Nissan Rogue

2019 Nissan Rogue Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue delivers premium level appointments in higher grades and can come equipped with the company's high-tech driver assistance system - just two of the factors that make it desirable.

No. 2- Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Camry has many of the same desirable characteristics as the Toyota Corolla. It's reliable and comes standard with a long list of safety features. It's spacious, comfortable, and easy to drive.

No. 1 - Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 These five used cars have the highest demand in Dallas and Fort Worth according to Carvana Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Whether you're buying a new Ford F-150 or one that's a few years old, you're getting a strong and capable truck that is equally as comfortable on-road as it is off, worksite included.

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The Nissan Rogue is one of the most sought-after used cars in Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Used car seller Carvana has released its list of the used vehicles that are most sought after by Atlanta, Georgia area shoppers. The list is mostly made up of the usual suspects - perennial best-sellers in their class. Here are the top five.

No. 5 - Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Corolla is one of the best-selling cars in the world. It’s perennially reliable, fuel efficient, and some with a good suite of standard safety technology.

No. 4 - Nissan Rogue

2020 Nissan Rogue Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue delivers premium level appointments in higher grades and can come equipped with the company’s high-tech driver assistance system - just two of the factors that make it desirable.

No. 3 - Honda Accord

2015 Honda Accord Hybrid Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Accord is a comfortable, fuel-efficient, reliable model. Buyers like its passenger and cargo space, along with its easy driveability.

No. 2 - Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Altima was recently redesigned but even if you go for an older model, you’ll still be getting a comfortable and fuel-efficient midsize car.

No. 1 - Toyota Camry

2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Camry has many of the same desirable characteristics as the Toyota Corolla. It’s reliable and comes standard with a long list of safety features. It’s spacious, comfortable, and easy to drive.

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