Cabbie Knows Best: GPS Driving System Relies on Cab-Driver Expertise

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Microsoft T-Drive

Microsoft

Everyone thinks they know better than cab drivers when it comes to the local knowledge of streets.  (Via New Scientist)

But Microsoft now wants to take our smug opinions and render them irrelevant if they’re able to harness said drivers’ views and in turn improve its own map software.

(See pictures of Bill Gates’ early years.)

The system is called T-Drive, and is the result of three months of movement (equating to 400 million kilometers of travel) from a not inconsiderable array of 33,000 taxis in Beijing, China. Trajectories get combined which in turn reveal the roads that cab drivers like to use and — crucially — at what particular time of day.

As a real-life example, a pair of drivers tested it out in Beijing with one taking a route suggested by T-Drive, and the other going with Google Maps. Impressively, T-Drive managed to avoid stoppages, producing an average drive time of 23 minutes, which was nearly four minutes quicker than Google Maps.

(See the best shots from Google’s candid camera.)

It is to be hoped that T-Drive doesn’t entirely eliminate the need for, you know, actual cab drivers. One of NewsFeed’s favorite ever stories is of the ride that took place between the Lower East Side and Upper West Side in New York a few years ago. As the cab ride progressed, both driver and passenger realized that they hadn’t hit one red light. The drama became almost too much to bear but, miraculously, the journey was completed with green lights all the way and both hugged upon reaching the destination. Let’s see T-Drive do that.

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