IEEE Spectrum says that Ford Motor Company signed a contract with NASA's Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to use their D-Wave 2000Q quantum annealer for research. More specifically, Ford is seeking a generalization of the "traveling salesman problem," which involves finding the most efficient route between multiple stops. While the obvious application of the research is in the navigation systems of self driving cars, Ford also says its looking to improve route logistics in traditionally piloted vehicles. Volkswagen conducted similar research in 2017, using a quantum computer and artificial intelligence to optimize travel routes of taxis in Beijing. Ford's chief technology officer, Ken Washington, says "Quantum is too far out to roll into that business yet. For us, quantum computing is one of many things we're doing to imagine and prepare for what might be around the corner, so that we can disrupt ourselves as opposed having others disrupt us." "Route management for fleet vehicles is a problem that we face in a real-world scenario," he says, referring to Ford's Chariot microtransit service. "If you try to solve this problem with a computer that we have today, there are so many options that you can easily run out of time. We think that quantum computing could be an alternative computing platform." "One of the things we're hearing from our customers as we're deploying some early fleets in cities [is that] they're not being deployed optimally,” adds Washington. "That's a real problem we need to have an answer to. Ultimately, we'll bring autonomous vehicles and ride services to those cities in a smart way that actually makes the experience in the cities better."