quantum computing

The Potential for Quantum Computing in Transportation Optimization

Robert Liscouski

The trucking industry is facing a myriad of challenges that quantum computing can solve. These challenges include compressed delivery times, increased regulations, more trucks on the road and rising costs. Optimizing the complexity of effective transport is a constant demand.

Consider a company with 500 trucks that need to be loaded with 500 diverse order sets, all within three hours each morning. Optimizing each truck to ensure accurate, rapid delivery is critical. Yet it’s hard to solve the complex computations required to select the most efficient loading every day.

Failure to optimize these trucks means customer dissatisfaction and loss of revenue.

Trucking businesses are dealing with more complex data and computations. At the same time they are battling compressed timeframes and higher costs. All these factors create a massive need for improved optimization of daily operations.

The changing nature of optimized logistics are driven by:

  • A dramatic increase in shipments due to online orders.
  • A subsequent change in the size and volume of orders.
  • Customer expectations of exceedingly rapid delivery.  Over 74% of customers use delivery time as a key buying criteria.
  • Supply chain disruptions like the ones experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic or during the Suez Canal back up.

Today’s Solutions

Today’s optimization solutions range from sticky notes on a whiteboard to digital spreadsheets to optimization software.

The dramatic shifts in customer buying behaviors, as well as increased complexities of analysis and expanding data sets, means these current approaches are struggling.

  • Current computing systems are struggling to accurately optimize logistics in compressed timeframes.
  • Sticky notes and spreadsheets have even less value as requirements and data become more complex.
  • As complexities grow, transportation decision-makers need better ways to optimize their logistics planning.

The Promise of Quantum Computing

One potential solution for complex logistics problems is quantum computing. Quantum computers solve problems in a completely different way than classical computers.  Specifically, they simulate real-world scenarios in an n-dimensional space.

A quantum computer can simulate all of the options for a transportation logistics problem. Then it can adjust to explore outcomes of different changes, just as the real world would change.

Today’s computers can only search for answers in a binary space. This does not represent most complex real world problems.

Quantum computing and quantum techniques applied to today’s computers significantly enhance our ability to identify key insights.

Decision-makers get the depth and diversity of insights needed to make the best decisions to grow profitability.

Even better, the quantum computer selects the best options to meet the requirements, not just a single solution. This means operational teams don’t have to spend significant time validating a single answer. They have the option to select the one result that best fits the current situation.

These are examples of how quantum computing can be a vital tool for transportation.

Quantum Reality

The reality is that quantum computers aren’t currently scalable enough yet to process production problems. But, that doesn’t mean quantum techniques can’t add value to transportation today.

One path is to leverage quantum techniques on today’s computing systems.

For example:

  • Data and problem constraints can be submitted to current systems in a quantum structure,
  • The results become more accurate and,
  • Today’s systems can  provide diverse results that provide deeper insights.

Trucks leave with optimal loads, take the best possible routes and arrive at customers’ locations on time.

Next Quantum Steps

The next step in quantum will be what the market calls hybrids, a method of blending quantum and classical computers to solve problems more quickly and efficiently.

Hybrid methods work by leveraging quantum computers to augment the processing of current computers.

  • Hybrid systems will enable the classical systems of today to process answers more accurately, and within shorter timeframes.
  • It’s also believed that hybrid systems will be able to solve currently unsolvable problems.
  • We expect that hybrid quantum/classical computing will be the dominant method for leveraging quantum technologies for the short and near term.

In fact, hybrids are the most likely architecture for optimization going forward.

Conclusion

Quantum holds the promise of a new way of thinking about how to optimize dynamic businesses. Even though it’s not ready for full production processing today, transportation and logistics businesses can derive benefits from quantum technologies and techniques, right now.

About the author:

Robert Liscouski is the President and CEO of Quantum Computing Inc. (Nasdaq: QUBT) (QCI), the leader in accelerating the value of quantum computing for real-world business solutions.

Serving as CEO and chairman of QCI since February 2018, Robert has more than 35 years of executive experience in public and private companies, as well as federal agencies.

QCI has developed the first software to bridge the power of classical and quantum computing, hiding complexity and empowering SMEs to solve complex computational problems today.

Connect with Robert on LinkedIn and for more information about QCI, please visit www.quantumcomputinginc.com.