DB, CQ employ Quantum tech on German Rail

  • November 30, 2021
  • William Payne

UK-based Cambridge Quantum (CQ) and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn Netz AG (DB) have formed a partnership to explore how quantum computers can improve the rescheduling of rail traffic as part of DB’s  long-term transformative plan, Digitale Schiene Deutschland, to digitise DB’s infrastructure and railway system using next-generation technologies to achieve improved capacity and utilisation of the rail network.

DB Netz AG is the rail network provider for currently 420 railway companies using a route network comprising nearly 33,300 km. The performance of non-DB-Group railways in the network has improved in recent years.

Digitale Schiene Deutschland is a sector initiative of DB AG, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and transport associations for the modernisation and digitalisation of Germany’s railways.

The DB-Cambridge Quantum team has optimised realistic train timetables after simulated delays, using CQ’s combinatorial optimisation algorithm Filtering Variational Quantum Eigensolver (F-VQE) and DB’s operations research expertise. The team is now identifying additional areas for study. The collaboration is aiming to explore how quantum algorithms and domain-specific modelling can support a faster and greener transportation network.

Ilyas Khan, CEO of Cambridge Quantum, said, “We are very excited to be working with Deutsche Bahn to explore and demonstrate the utility of today’s Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (“NISQ”) processors to solve real-world problems in the transport and logistics sector. Deutsche Bahn’s research and development efforts in this area are of critical importance, and we are confident that over time as quantum computers start to scale, our work with the will lead to a meaningful contribution towards a cleaner and greener future.”

Michael Küpper, lead of Capacity and Traffic Management System at Digitale Schiene Deutschland, said, “The collaboration with CQ is a perfect example of how Deutsche Bahn is working as a partner with industry providers and combining our relative expertise towards a goal neither side can achieve alone. By working with CQ, we have fine-tuned our research and development plans and taken the first steps in defining a future quantum-advantaged train timetabling system. We are excited to continue working with CQ to address some of the key challenges and contribute to the rapidly evolving field of NISQ quantum algorithm research.”