Friday, November 26, 2010

Ni qu na li? Harnessing Beijing taxi drivers' "street smarts"

Oh, the wonders of private endeavor!  MIT's Technology Review:
Anyone who's ridden in a taxi knows that cab drivers know their way around a city better than the average driver. They seem to have super-secret side-street maneuvers that shave minutes off a trip by avoiding traffic, lights, and other problems. Now researchers from Microsoft are mining cabbies' knowledge to create faster driving paths for online maps.
Beijing's taxi companies and owner-operators are dynamic economic actors, resisting trade unionism and noted for their resistance to regulation.  (See: S. Xiao-shan, An explanation of the regulation failure in the taxicab industry - tested on the case of the taxi regulation in Beijing. Paper presented at the International Conference on Management Science and Engineering [2006].)

In other words, Beijing cabbies are perfect subjects for this research.

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