Research teams from ExxonMobil and IBM are using existing quantum devices to model maritime routing to optimize fleet management, with an aim of shortening the distance and time traveled by merchant ships.
They describe their work in "Formulating and Solving Routing Problems on Quantum Computers," published in IEEE Transactions on Quantum Engineering.
"We wanted to see whether quantum computers could transform how we solve such complex optimization problems and provide more accurate solutions in less computational times," the researchers said.
Using a simulated quantum device, they found that models like the quadratic unconstrained binary optimization (QUBO) technique, which is often used in classical computer science, could be solved effectively by quantum algorithms, taking into account factors like routes traveled, potential movements between port locations, and the order in which locations are visited on a route.
The researchers also found that some degree of inexactness is allowed, which "is a promising feature to handle the inherent noise affecting the quantum algorithms on real devices."
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