Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ride-sharing could cut cabs' road time by 30 percent

02.09.2014

A new analytic framework enables analysis of GPS data on 150 million cab rides in New York City

Cellphone apps that find users car rides in real time are exploding in popularity: The car-service company Uber was recently valued at $18 billion, and even as it faces legal wrangles, a number of companies that provide similar services with licensed taxi cabs have sprung up.

What if the taxi-service app on your cellphone had a button on it that let you indicate that you were willing to share a ride with another passenger? How drastically could cab-sharing reduce traffic, fares, and carbon dioxide emissions?

Authoritatively answering that question requires analyzing huge volumes of data, which hasn't been computationally feasible with traditional methods. But in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, researchers at MIT, Cornell University, and the Italian National Research Council's Institute for Informatics and Telematics present a new technique that enabled them to exhaustively analyze 150 million trip records collected from more than 13,000 New York City cabs over the course of a year.

Their conclusions: If passengers had been willing to tolerate no more than five minutes in delays per trip, almost 95 percent of the trips could have been shared. The optimal combination of trips would have reduced total travel time by 40 percent, with corresponding reductions in operational costs and carbon dioxide emissions.

"Of course, nobody should ever be forced to share a vehicle," says Carlo Ratti, professor of the practice in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) and one of the paper's coauthors. "However, our research shows what would happen if people have sharing as an option. This is more than a theoretical exercise, with services such as Uber Pool bringing these ideas into practice."

Finding the optimal combination of trips does require foreknowledge of trips' starting times: For instance, a 30-minute trip the length of Manhattan might be combined with a 10-minute trip beginning 15 minutes later. But that kind of advance planning is unlikely if the passengers are using cellphone apps. So the researchers also analyzed the data on the assumption that only trips starting within a minute of each other could be combined. Even then, they still found a 32 percent reduction in total travel time.

"We think that with the potential of a 30 percent reduction in operational costs, there is plenty of room for redistributing these benefits to customers, because we have to offer them lower fares; to drivers, because we have to incentivize them to belong to this system; to companies; and of course, there is a benefit for the community," says Paolo Santi, a visiting scientist in DUSP and first author on the paper.

In fact, Santi says, the results of his and his colleagues' analysis were so striking that they asked Cornell mathematician Steven Strogatz to review their methodology. Strogatz is a co-author on the paper, as are Ratti and postdoc Stanislav Sobolevsky, both of MIT's Senseable City Lab. Rounding out the author list are Michael Szell, who was a postdoc in the Senseable City lab when the work was done and is now at Northeastern University, and Giovanni Resta, a researcher at Santi's home institution, the Institute for Informatics and Telematics.

In analyzing taxi data for ride-sharing opportunities, "Typically, the approach that was taken was a variation of the so-called 'traveling-salesman problem,'" Santi explains. "This is the basic algorithmic framework, and then there are extensions for sharing."

The traveling-salesman problem asks whether, given a set of cities and the travel times between them, there is a route that would allow a traveling salesman to reach all of them within some time limit. Unfortunately, the traveling-salesman problem is also an example — indeed, perhaps the most famous example — of an NP-complete problem, meaning that even for moderate-sized data sets, it can't (as far as anyone knows) be solved in a reasonable amount of time.

So Santi and his colleagues took a different approach. First, they characterize every taxi trip according to four measurements: the time and GPS coordinates of both the pickup and the dropoff. Then, for each trip, their algorithm identifies the set of other trips that overlap with it — the ones that begin before it ends. Then it determines whether the trip they're examining can be combined with any of those other trips without exceeding the delay threshold. On average, any given trip is "shareable" with about 100 other trips.

Next, the algorithm represents the shareability of all 150 million trips in the database as a graph. A graph is a mathematical abstraction consisting of nodes — usually depicted as circles — and edges — usually depicted as lines between nodes. In this case, the nodes represent trips and the edges represent their shareability.

The graphical representation itself was the key to the researchers' analysis. With that in hand, well-known algorithms can efficiently find the optimal matchings to either maximize sharing or minimize travel time.

The researchers also conducted experiments to ensure that their matching algorithm would work in real time, if it ran on a server used to coordinate data from cellphones running a taxi-sharing app. They found that, even running on a single Linux box, it could find optimal matchings for about 100,000 trips in a tenth of a second, whereas the GPS data indicated that on average, about 300 new taxi trips were initiated in New York every minute.

Finally, an online application designed by Szell, HubCab, allows people to explore the taxi data themselves, using a map of New York as an interface.

###

Written by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office

Andrew Carleen | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

Further reports about: GPS MIT Ride-sharing Telematics algorithm cellphone dioxide emissions reduction

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development

28.09.2016 | Medical Engineering

Innovate coating extends the life of materials for industrial use

28.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Blockchain Set to Transform the Financial Services Market

28.09.2016 | Business and Finance

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>