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Google Businesses The Internet Announcements

Google Ride Finder Announced 349

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the cabbie-stalking dept.
nthitz writes "Need a ride? Now Google has included the ability to lookup where taxis are in real time! The new service is called Google Ride Finder. Using a combination of Google Maps and Google Local you can see where certain taxis are at the moment. Currently there are only 11 major cities that are supported, and there are still only a few cab companies that are involved. The service is pretty cool, but if they don't add more cities/companies, who knows how well it will do. For more info check out Google's Blog."
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Google Ride Finder Announced

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  • by sjrstory (839289) * on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:11AM (#12108255) Homepage
    Neat idea, but I'd like something that tracks public transportation vehicles. Accessible via a WAP browser, it would be a great thing to have while waiting at a bus stop at 3am wondering WHERE the frigg the bus is!
    • by tjxn (236985) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:24AM (#12108318)
      I can do something close in Portland, Oregon... Accessing the Tri-Met website (www.tri-mer.org/wap) on my cell phone tells me how long until the bus I'm waiting for reaches my stop...
      • Does this just follow the schedule and add a bit to appease you? or does this actually track the busses and calculate in real time based upon the driver's habbits, road conditions, speed, etc. how long it will take to get there?
        • by artifex2004 (766107) on Friday April 01, 2005 @04:44AM (#12108667) Journal
          Does this just follow the schedule and add a bit to appease you? or does this actually track the busses and calculate in real time based upon the driver's habbits, road conditions, speed, etc. how long it will take to get there?


          That's an excellent point. Actually, unless Super Shuttle has changed its operations, the only regular stops here in Dallas, TX, are D/FW airport (I don't think it does Love Field) and several hotels. Anywhere else, you have to call the dispatcher, to send the shuttle by. So seeing who's near you is somewhat useless, for this company. Still, it's beta, and soon they may have some of the taxis on here, also.

          You know, some of these companies do already use GPS and radio uplinks to track their vehicles, so they don't have to calculate anything.
        • by JeremyALogan (622913) on Friday April 01, 2005 @06:32AM (#12109002) Homepage
          Actually it is fairly acurate (usually to the minute). The bus drivers have a little computer in the front of the bus that they are constantly punching stuff into... it seems to relay the info, via radio (?), back to the 'headquarters'. I've been wondering about this for a while, but it seems to be so acurate that it would have to be real-time info and not just schedules. I guess I could start comparing their estimated arival times (from the web) to the scheduled times to get a real answer.
        • Does this just follow the schedule and add a bit to appease you? or does this actually track the busses and calculate in real time based upon the driver's habbits, road conditions, speed, etc. how long it will take to get there?

          Ann Arbor's busses [theride.org] all have GPS, and you can see displays of the real-time bus-location data in their main bus station. I keep hoping they'll set up some kind of internet access to that data some day. The ability to check bus locations anywhere from a cell phone would be really

    • Something like this perhaps.. http://www.nctx.co.uk/Accessibility/Text.htm [nctx.co.uk]
    • Try nextbus.com [nextbus.com]. It has a lot of cities, WAP access, and is pretty accurate, at least in Boulder, CO. But it would be amazing with a real time map like this... it has one, but it's a java applet that has trouble zooming, etc.
    • by kyoko21 (198413) on Friday April 01, 2005 @04:05AM (#12108523)
      Actually, a few years ago when I was at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg Transit had GPS units mounted on their buses which enabled the realtime display of the location of their buses. This was particularly neat because I could check at anytime from the website of where their buses were and I could run time my run to the bus stop. Unfortunately, they don't have this running on their site anymore... very sad :-/ Talk about 'big brother'.
    • TriMet [trimet.org] in Portland will already tell you how many minutes until the next bus arrives at a given stop. I don't have a WAP phone, but if you know the stop number, you can call a phone number and enter the stop number, and it'll give you the info over the phone. It's available on the web, and they have readerboards at several of the train stations (both MAX and Portland Streetcar). The TV displays at the bus stops downtown still only display the scheduled time, rather than an actual countdown, but they're n
    • I checked it out and found it totally useless. The cab company in Milwaukee is legit. The cars hop around like gps errors, the dispatcher won't necessarily send the closest since it might be taken already. Most people I know use only 1 cab company.

      Bus tracking would be a much better idea. I don't think they have tracking equipment, though I could be wrong.
    • by SoCalChris (573049) on Friday April 01, 2005 @05:09AM (#12108747) Journal
      Many cities that use the Siemens TransitMaster system have this capability. Here in Long Beach, Ca, we're getting it implemented within the next few months.

      http://www.ilgsystems.com/productservice-transit-t iswork.htm [ilgsystems.com]
      http://www.ilgsystems.com/productservice-transit-t isbus.htm [ilgsystems.com]

      Some of our busier stops, and the main transit hub downtown already have live feeds updated in real time displaying the next bus arrival & departure time. The system is dynamic, and figures in delays due to traffic, detours, or if the bus is running late for any other reasons. It is basically a stripped down version of the software used by our dispatchers.
    • by wirefarm (18470) <jimNO@SPAMmmdc.net> on Friday April 01, 2005 @05:42AM (#12108858) Homepage
      Where I live, having GBS on the busses would be redundant and fairly useless.

      If I'm at the bus stop, I can look at the sign and printed there it tells me that the bus will arrive at 9:53 am. I check my watch and at precisely 9:53, the bus pulls up. Every time.
      When friends are at my house in the evening, they may hop onto the web to see what time the subway is leaving. Not just the last train, but any one before that.

      When I lived in the states, in Washington DC, there was no attempt at keeping a schedule at all. I was on the subway one time, in the first car, when the driver stopped for a few minutes in mid tunnel, to chat with another driver who had also stopped. Since I was near the front, I could hear it and it wasn't safety-related or anything justifiable, it was all "Hey, girlfriend, how's your Momma doin'?"

      Here in Tokyo, they move about twenty-seven million people around on mass transit every day. (Compare that with NYC's daily 3.1 million.)
      I guess to do that you have to be pretty precise about your timetables.

      Strangely though, last night there was a one hour delay on my usual train. Somebody had jumped in front of it. That's about the only reason things get slowed down.

  • by rhennigan (833589) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:13AM (#12108267)
    Looks like they are getting closer and closer to being able to locate my keys in my house for me. Awesome.
  • by delymyth (17681) * on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:16AM (#12108279) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes I think Google is running too much and too fast.
    Google Maps and Google Local (thus Google Ride Finder too) are available only for US citizens.
    Services are fine, are good, are nice, and I'd like to see something similar for my area too (I live in Italy).
    My not-so-secret dream is that one day they'll extend all those great services to the rest of the world, maybe before launching tons of other services I would only look at saying "it would be nice to be able to use it..."

    Oh, well, I feel like I live in the third world :(
    • Google Maps and Google Local (thus Google Ride Finder too) are available only for US citizens.

      actually, both are available at least in canada.
      ride finder isn't (at least not yet), maybe this will change?

      also, you must take into account that taxis are not highly used in some cities, and such a service just might not be worth it.

      OTOH, would be cool to hook up to a WAP from your PDA/etc and find the closest taxi :)
    • I become more persuaded that this is a joke story the more i read it(great idea though) , but you are right with your point , living in Germany i know the feeling oh so well.
      However in all fairness they are a company from the USA , i am aware of several european sites providing the same services such as maps and local info you just have to pick and mix .
      I know its nice to have a centralised service and all, but putting all my eggs in one basket has never been a faviourit concept of mine(yes i do use unix i
  • by snotclot (836055) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:16AM (#12108282)
    Did anyone else see the GMAIL login page become this: well i'm not good enough to download the page, there's a funny handdrawn picture, but here's the text: Welcome to Gmail A Google approach to math. On the eve of Gmail's one-year birthday, our engineers were toiling away furiously. Notes scribbled all over the walls. Complex calculations on napkins and empty pizza boxes. Millions of M&Ms. The result?... starting today, we're beginning the roll-out of our new and top secret Infinity+1 storage plan. The key features are: Write, don't worry. You want to stop caring about storage. We want to keep giving you more. Today, and beyond. The gift that keeps on giving. 1102.353769 megabytes of storage (and counting) for every user. No complicated equations. No tough algorithms. Just this one graph: Gmail turns 1 today. And we've always loved a good joke. We know we won't reach infinity, but check out what we will do ... Gmail Sign In Username: Password: Don't ask for my password for 2 weeks. Forgot your password? Learn more about Gmail. Check out our new features! A few words about Gmail and privacy.
  • by helioquake (841463) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:19AM (#12108294) Journal
    I guess this is wicked cool if you have a cool cell phone or PDA. I can definitely see the benefit in signing up for this service by a cab company.
  • ...where's my car?
  • That would have been neat. :) Get to know where and with whom your spouse is right now.
  • I zoomed in on some taxis in the Baltimore, MD area, then waited a few minutes. After clicking the "Update Vehicle Locations" button, the cars magically moved!

    This looks to be quite promising.
  • Whether this is real or not, the Taxi Companies Google lists are going to be very happy sitting there as part of one of Google's new services.

    It looks like they'll be having a Merry April Fools Day.
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:42AM (#12108411) Homepage
    I've contacted Google numerous times about the problem of no distance scale on Google Maps and yet still no distance scale; I mention this here since the Taxi finder feature is using Google Maps.

    Map makers, the ones that actually collected the data for the maps Google, etc uses, know how important scale is for both creating an accurate map *and* as well as for the user of the map ... without a distance scale on the map, the user is left wondering how far two points are - distance is important in determing whether one has enough gas, money, time, etc to get to the intended destinaton.

    In short, Google Maps is nice, but without a distance scale, it's of limited usefulness.

    If anyone from Google is reading this, please chime in regarding this matter - thanks in advance.

    Ron Bennett
  • by porp (24384) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:46AM (#12108429)

    Screw the Taxi tracker. I'm looking forward to a Google Gulp, found here [google.com]. My favorite bit:

    From forest to freezer: A Google Gulp history

    It is estimated that nearly half of Planet Earth's plant and animal species live in tropical rain forests, the vast majority of them undiscovered by humans and therefore not yet subjected to commercial exploitation. For Google, this cornucopia of undigitized data represented an irresistible acquisition target. So, for the past two years, as his 20% project, VP of operations Urs Hoelzle has spent one day a week collecting flora samples in several Bolivian sub-equatorial rain forests. For the most part, the compounds he returned with were nothing special - the usual grab-bag of future steroids, muscle relaxants, skin care appliqués and long-shot cancer drugs.


    I bet Google Gulps are good with vodka. Shit, anything is good with vodka.

    porp
    • Hilarious, This is the first time I have seen Google chide Microsoft directly. From the googlegulp FAQ 11. When will you take Google Gulp out of beta? Man, if you pressure us, you just drive us away. We'll commit when we're ready, okay? Besides, what's so great about taking things out of beta? It ruins all the romance, the challenge, the possibilities, the right to explore. Carpe diem, ya know? Maybe we're jaded, but we've seen all these other companies leap headlong into 1.0, thinking their product is e
    • I bet Google Gulps are good with vodka. Shit, anything is good with vodka.


      I want what we called a "suicide" when I was a kid: all 4 flavors at once! Well, maybe not the water, unless it was in ice cube form. I guess it would be an "anti-suicide." I'd call it a lifesaver, but I doubt they taste similar :)
    • Think a DNA scanner embedded in the lip of your bottle reading all 3 gigabytes of your base pair genetic data in a fraction of a second, fine-tuning your individual hormonal cocktail in real time using our patented Auto-Drink(TM) technology, and slamming a truckload of electrolytic neurotransmitter smart-drug stimulants past the blood-brain barrier to achieve maximum optimization of your soon-to-be-grateful cerebral cortex. Plus, it's low in carbs!

      Yes, but what if all I want is a nice cup of tea?

      So

  • by sjbe (173966) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:46AM (#12108430)
    While only a few cab companies are participating and it's in select cities (mine is one fortunately) this looks to be a pretty neat little service. I don't know that it will be hugely valuable without more information and cab companies participating. A few ideas for how to use it come to mind.
    • Obviously it could be useful to figure out which cab company to call based on who's closest for rides to the airport or for picking someone up. Also tells where particular cab companies tend to operate.
    • Could be a way to track the location of someone if you know they are in a cab from a particular company. Voluntary of course but potentially useful.
    • Simple way to know what cab companies operate in the area and who might be reputable.

    Beyond that I'm not sure yet. If it gets integrated with traffic/weather reports or works on mobile devices it would be more useful. It's definitely a pretty cool hack no matter what.

  • Mobile service providers, r u reading this? :-)
  • by fizze (610734) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:47AM (#12108438)
    am I the only one that thought about the freelance mode in NFS:U2 ?

    In related news:
    google also announced a new service, called "google date finder", to ease chances for _challenged_ people (read: geeks). In conjunction with google maps, google local, google ride finder and datefinder.com, the service is expected to be a huge breakthu success....
  • by Palal (836081)
    I thought this was a joke (they like their jokes), but I guess not.... last year's joke was GMail. This year's is: http://www.google.com/googlegulp/ [google.com]
  • GoogleChick - finds hot chicks in your local neighborhood
    GooglePizza - finds hot pizza in your local neighborhood
    GoogleCrack - finds hot crack in your local neighborhood

    Then, the transformation from "Google, Friend of the World" to "Google, Matrix Overlord Ruler of the Human Slaves" will be complete...
  • by Andrew Cady (115471) on Friday April 01, 2005 @04:23AM (#12108601)
    I'd like a search engine for car pooling. The only reason 90% of the cars on the road have no passengers is the inability to organize a more efficient scheme; this would require only centralized planning. A computer service would be ideal for the task, so long as it had sufficient start-up popularity. Google does. Get on it, Google; save us some gas money.
  • by Hack Jandy (781503) on Friday April 01, 2005 @04:39AM (#12108649) Homepage
    From http://www.google.com/googlegulp/faq.html [google.com]

    11. When will you take Google Gulp out of beta?
    Man, if you pressure us, you just drive us away. We'll commit when we're ready, okay? Besides, what's so great about taking things out of beta? It ruins all the romance, the challenge, the possibilities, the right to explore. Carpe diem, ya know? Maybe we're jaded, but we've seen all these other companies leap headlong into 1.0, thinking their product is exactly what they've been dreaming of all their lives, that everything is perfect and hunky-dory - and the next thing you know some vanilla copycat release from Redmond is kicking their butt, the Board is holding emergency meetings and the CEO is on CNBC blathering sweatily about "a new direction" and "getting back to basics." No thanks, man. We like our freedom.
  • London (Score:3, Informative)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Friday April 01, 2005 @04:55AM (#12108709) Journal
    Don't really need that here but bloody hell I wish someone would get off their ass and hook up London bus locations to the net. They're already fitted with some sort of tracking system so the bus stop can tell you when the next one is coming so its not like it would cost anything but people would really appreciate being able to look it up on the net or on their phone so they didn't have to leave the house before they had to.

    Personally I think it would push bus usage right up which is something they mayor keeps going on about, that is in between increasing the prices to the equivalent of a gallon of US gas per fucking bus ticket! and letting the bloody privatised bus company bosses get away with making personal millions. The dick head also has some other bright ideas - invest millions in putting ticket machines on EVERY bus stop in central London because buying a ticket on the bus 'slows everyone down' - of course the roadside ticket machines break down daily and that holds the bus up longer when the driver argues with someone who can't get a ticket and then gets out and tries to fix it.

    Just to think the money from those now disused ticket machines (i could have told them it wouldn't work from the start) could have been spent on this, but oooh no, what do they do? they go and by some stupid Mercedes bendy buses which promptly piss off everyone on the road and catch fire! ok that's the end of my London rant, if you ever come here its probably easier just to get a black taxi, they're everywhere, they've memorised every road, they can use the bus lanes and will get you there fast and in comfort, but they're bloody expensive.
  • Another story that sounds great for an instant until you relise it's US only.

    The internet...aggh!

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