T Drive: MSR to Follow That Cab for better driving routes

At this week’s 18th annual ACM SIGSPATIAL International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems, one of the submissions from Microsoft Research may provide better driving directions for Bing Maps, by following taxis to learn the best routes around a particular city.

taxi_x220_thumb Bing

Beijing taxi routes from MSR, via Technology Review

At the conference, Yu Zheng from MSR and a team of researchers presented their findings of the project, which followed taxicab routes in Beijing, China by analyzing GPS data from 33,000 Beijing taxis.  The results from T-Drive showed better results than 60% of similar directions from either Bing or Google maps (which came in about the same for trip times), shaving some 16% off the time of a trip.

An article in MIT’s Technology Review highlights T-Drive as one of a number of research projects that are taking a look at how to improve drive time estimations and routes in online maps, which currently only estimate the length of the road and posted speed limits.

Traffic information is becoming a hot topic in mapping technology lately as mobile devices not only allow us to ask for the latest information, but can actually add to the knowledge set via GPS and other information.