Transport for NSW looks to quantum future with Q-CTRL

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Transport for NSW looks to quantum future with Q-CTRL

For network management and congestion problems.

Transport for NSW has enlisted the help of Sydney-based quantum computing startup Q-CTRL to tackle transport network management and congestion problems across the state’s public transport network.

The research project with the University of Sydney's first quantum spin-off company will investigate ways the technology can be used to “create and manage a more resilient transport network”.

Transport minister Andrew Constance said the partnership was a “rare opportunity” to work with quantum experts to “tackle complex future network management and congestion problems”.

While details on the project are scare, one of the possibilities being considered is dynamic scheduling, whereby schedules are updated in real-time based on crowding across the network.

TfNSW is already using native machine learning technology in the Amazon Web Services ecosystem to predict delays across the network using weather, Opal card and special event data.

“Future applications... could include mapping all transport modes and crowd movements simultaneously in real time, and automatically updating the schedule to solve disruption issues,” Constance said.

“We could see all trains, busses, ferries, trams and motorways essentially ‘talking to each other’ to find out where customers are and deploy resources where needed.

"It could be used for massive public events, like New Year’s Eve or Vivid Festival.”

Speaking at the launch of NSW’s future transport technology roadmap last month, Q-CTRL founder professor Michael Biercuk said the project will involve building a “world-first prototype of a product [called] Fire Opal”.

Biercuk said the work would “take all of the capabilities that we have developed and validated on real world-leading quantum computers, and deploy this to give completely new tools to data scientists and analysts at TfNSW”.

“As the industry evolves, and as we cross the threshold of quantum advantage, we find ourselves in a position where TfNSW is in an enviable position of being quantum ready,” he said.

“So right now we’re moving forward with this relationship. We’re very excited to see the way that government has embraced the role of an enabler of advanced technology.

Biercuk said quantum could solve problems that are “endemic” to transport such as when “you get off one mode of transport... [and] you end up waiting for 15 minutes for the next bus because you just missed the bus that was scheduled before”.

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