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Quantum computing and transport

Quantum computing could reduce the impact of transport on the climate. 

Although quantum computing is still in its infancy, the potential of this emerging technology to change the world cannot be understated. In the same way the development of today’s computer hardware began with a single transistor, research taking place today in the UK Quantum Technology Hub in Computing and Simulation (QCS) is paving the way for hugely sophisticated quantum computers.

Transport is just one of many areas where the power of quantum computing has the potential to change everyday lives.

Moving goods releases vast amounts of greenhouse gases each year and even with a shift towards electric vehicles, transport is expensive in terms of both energy and environmental impact.  While classical computers are limited in their ability to predict the behaviour of molecular systems, due to the complex interactions between molecules, quantum simulation offers the potential to develop new, more efficient, chemical processes, or develop brand new materials with new properties. Better performing, lighter, and less environmentally damaging batteries, for example, may offer the potential to radically change the way we produce and consume the power used in transportation.

In addition to the development of more climate-friendly vehicles, optimising the routes they take has the potential to make a significant contribution towards more efficient logistics.  Calculating the most efficient route between multiple locations is incredibly complex. The more stops there are, the higher the number of possible routes, quickly turning into scenarios with trillions of possible options. Unlike classical computers, which are unable to solve this ‘travelling salesman problem’ within a practical timescale (think tens or even hundreds of years), the ability of quantum computers to simultaneously calculate all possible routes between multiple stops holds the potential to significantly reduce the impact of logistics on the environment.