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HomeCloud ComputingReimagining ride-hailing services with Google Maps Platform

Reimagining ride-hailing services with Google Maps Platform

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post comes from Jonathan Campos, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Engineering, Alto. He shares how Alto is transforming the ride-hailing industry with Google Maps Platform.

When people first hear about us, they might think we’re just like other ride-hailing companies. But what sets us apart is all Alto drivers are full-time employees, not independent contractors. When people hear this, they say, “Oh, so you’re like a taxi company.” That’s not quite accurate, either; we straddle the line between traditional ride-hailing services and taxis by leveraging technology to pick up our passengers while also engaging in quality checks to give our riders clean, consistent rides every single time they choose Alto. 

Our strategy works, as evidenced by how quickly we’ve grown since our founding in 2018. Next, we plan to quadruple our current headcount of 2,000 employees and improve our pickups, optimize our routes, and create safer rides leveraging Google Maps Platform’s geolocation services.

Cutting down on customer complaints

We didn’t always use Google Maps Platform. In the beginning, we compared the solution with other competitors based on latency, time to deployment, and the number of locations it covers. We thought the numbers were about the same but when we started using a different mapping solution, our customers let us know there were some issues. Drivers were directed to imprecise pickup points, such as the back entrance of a hotel or an alleyway near the address shared by the passenger. That was inefficient because it required extra driving time or contact with the rider  to identify the right pickup spot.

Since switching to Google Maps Platform and using the Places API, our drivers can see the rider’s exact reported location as soon as they accept that ride, which means customers are never left waiting and wondering if the driver is at a different location. Our customer complaints are down by almost 90% as a result of our use of Google Maps Platform to raise the quality and precision of our services.

Optimizing the ride-hailing fleet

One of the features that’s unique at Alto is we let our customers know that the vehicle—either a Buick or Volkswagen SUV—will arrive at their door within 10 to 15 minutes of them booking a ride. We ask our riders to be ready for pickup in 10 minutes, eliminating the need for them to keep checking their phones, wondering if the driver is four minutes away or 14 minutes away. Our cars are centrally warehoused and dispatched, which helps us optimize our entire fleet—and we rely on Routes to find the closest car for each passenger.  

If another car becomes available closer to a rider, then the closest driver gets routed to them instead, saving time for the driver and minimizing the distance traveled. In that sense, Routes helps us manage our fleet more efficiently by enabling our drivers to prioritize pickups based on nearest locations, and to see exactly where they’re going and how best to get there.

Creating a safer ride for everyone

We’re always looking to improve the customer experience at Alto. As we assessed our operations, we found we could make the ride even safer than it already is. Working with Google Cloud Partner Navagis, we’re using Google Maps Platform’s On-demand Rides and Deliveries Solution to provide real-time tracking of maps in our own app. Previously, drivers would lose ride context as they switched from our application to a separate navigation app to direct them to the customer location. Not only was that distracting but switching from app to app also meant the pickup location and customer name were separate from the driving route. Now, with the On-demand Rides and Deliveries Solution, we’re integrating the two and zeroing in on not just that last mile, but those last 30 feet and ensuring a safe pickup and drop off experience.

With the On-demand Rides and Deliveries Solution, riders can see the exact route the driver is taking. This gives riders reassurance that the driver is taking them to the right destination. 

Google Maps Platform helps empower drivers to keep our promise of consistency, makes sure riders have a high-quality, frictionless experience, and helps our business run that much smoother. With that, we’re setting a new standard for riders and drivers alike, and we look forward to what’s ahead.

For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit our website.

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