Despite the availability of different forms of public transport, much of the time we wind up taking the car everywhere on journeys. The reason? Convenience. Simply put: if you’re in a rush, it’s too much trouble to wait around for buses and the like—even if we know it would be cheaper and more environmentally-friendly to do so.
While this rationale certainly makes sense, it has an extra downside. Particularly in metropolitan areas, too many cars on the road means congestion.
A new algorithm developed by the folks at Siemens is trying to solve that problem, however–offering a one-stop-shop for working out the availability of different car-sharing vehicles at any given location at a certain time. Using the app, customers can plan entire journeys, and establish exactly which combinations of transport are going to serve them best.
The forecasting service is set to be added into the integrated SiMobility Connect mobility platform, which links together carsharing firms, public transport companies, taxis, and bike-rental services.
The algorithm doesn’t just work by comparing timetables, since these are not available for all forms of transport. Instead, researchers at Siemens Corporate Technology developed a way of using realtime data about the exact location of all carsharing vehicles to forecast where they will be available in the future. It even takes into account extra details, such as weather, vacation periods, and other events, which might effect availability of vehicles.
Once implemented, users will be able to take advantage of the tool to better plan their journeys, while car-sharing companies will benefit because they will be able to work out how best to deploy their vehicles efficiently.
Given the recent horror stories about the surge pricing of companies like Uber (which can sometimes charge up to 9x the regular cost of a journey because it has gauged demand to be sufficient to do so), a tool like Siemens’ has the potential to transform the way we plan our trips—and, potentially, how much we pay for them, too.