India: To provide more accurate ‘estimated time of arrival’ to customers in India and other markets, Uber will apply real-time traffic on purchased mapping data, imagery and topology, said Manik Gupta, head of product, maps at Uber.
“We need to make a much better job with ETAs in India and other markets. There is an expectation that we set with ETAs and we want to make sure we live up to that,” said Gupta.
For improving accuracy, and understand the traffic conditions, Uber is using third party data to blend their historical trip data like drop-offs and pickup locations— and typical traffic speed, among others, said Gupta.
He said one of the biggest contributors to estimated time of arrival inaccuracy is traffic. “If you don’t have a good understanding of how bad or good traffic is on a certain route, you cannot estimate it better. Hence, there is a lot of work that we are doing to improve how we understand traffic better,” he said.
Although Uber has tie-ups with several partners like Google and TomTom for mapping content, Gupta, a former Google Maps executive, said they are investing a significant amount of research and resources in their own mapping efforts since their problems are different from that of other mapping providers.
“For example, parking lots matter a lot to Uber, since a lot of pickups and dropoffs happen there. However, there are not that many companies that invest in parking lots since it’s probably not costeffective for them.” Gupta said.
The company is also using this data to solve the rider pickup and dropoff problem. “For instance, we know in a hotel, pickups typically happen in the lobby, so we can request riders to go to the lobby for future rides” Gupta said.