Monday February 18, 2019
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Google Launches A Car-Pooling Application ‘Waze’

The carpooling fees are supposed to be similar to what it would cost to take a train or type of public transportation to work.

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The Waze application is displayed on a smartphone in San Francisco. VOA

Google will begin offering its pay-to-carpool service throughout the U.S., an effort to reduce the commute-time congestion that its popular Waze navigation app is designed to avoid.

The expansion announced Wednesday builds upon a carpooling system that Waze began testing two years ago in northern California and Israel before gradually extending it into Brazil and parts of 12 other states.

Now it will be available to anyone in the U.S.

Drivers willing to give someone a ride for a small fee to cover some of their costs for gas and other expenses need only Waze’s app on their phone. Anyone willing to pay a few bucks to hitch a ride will need to install a different Waze app focused on carpooling.

Google
A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company’s offices in Toronto. VOA

About 1.3 million drivers and passengers have signed up for Waze’s carpooling service, the company says. About 30 million people in the U.S. currently rely on the Waze app for directions; it has 110 million users worldwide.

Waze’s carpooling effort has been viewed as a potential first step for Google to mount a challenge to the two top ride-hailing services, Uber and Lyft.

But Waze founder and CEO Noam Bardin rejected that notion in an interview with The Associated Press, insisting that the carpooling service is purely an attempt to ease traffic congestion.

“We don’t want to be a professional driving network,” Bardin said. “We see ride sharing as something that needs to become part of the daily commute. If we can’t get people out of their cars, it won’t be solving anything.”

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Anyone willing to pay a few bucks to hitch a ride will need to install a different Waze app focused on carpooling. Flickr

Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey also sees Waze’s service as a bigger threat to other carpooling apps such as Scoop and Carpool Buddy than to Uber and Lyft. “Carpooling is a much different animal,” he said.

It’s a form of transportation that Bardin said Waze had difficulty figuring out. Early on, Waze tried to get more drivers to sign up by emphasizing the economic benefits of having someone help cover gas costs for a trip that they were going to make anyway.

But earlier this year, Waze realized it needed a better formula for connecting strangers willing to ride together in a car. Many women, for instance, only want to ride with other women, Bardin said, while other people enjoy commuting with others who work for the same employer or live in the same neighborhood.

“Carpooling is a more social experience,” Bardin said. “A lot of time those of us working in the digital world forget that social connections are often the most important thing in the real world.”

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

Waze’s app still sets a price for each carpooling trip and transfers payments without charging a commission. That’s something Waze can afford to do because Google makes so much money from selling digital ads on Waze and its many other services.

Also Read: In India, Carpooling and Ride-Sharing Can Actually Improve Urban Mobility: Uber

The carpooling fees are supposed to be similar to what it would cost to take a train or type of public transportation to work, Bardin said. Drivers and riders can agree to adjust the price upward or downward, but the fees can never exceed the rate the Internal Revenue Service allows for business-related mileage — currently 54.5 cents per mile.

Even though Waze’s carpooling service doesn’t appear to be driven by profit motive, Ramsey isn’t convinced that will always be the case. “I do think Google is realizing that it can’t just keep making all its money from selling ads,” he said. (VOA)

Next Story

Researchers Develop Wearable Device to Measure Wearer’s Physiological Response to Environment

The team says the aim of Project Coolbit is to create a personalised comfort model for each wearer, as well as crowdsourcing environmental data in the city in real-time.

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Fitbit watches, Sensors, Environment
Fitbit watches have sensors that get information from air temperature and humidity, but also from the physiological response of the individual in that environment. Pixabay

Researchers are developing a wearable device that aims to provide individualised information while gathering environmental data.

According to researchers, the device can measure the wearer’s physiological response to their immediate environment.

“We have added some sensors to the Fitbit watches that get information from air temperature and humidity, but also from the physiological response of the individual in that environment, such as your heart rate, your skin temperature, and your skin humidity,” said Negin Nazarian from UNSW.

“We have also developed some apps where you can interact with and tell us how you feel about the environment, so that way we can develop a methodology and a solution that is personalised and not one-size-fits-all,” Nazarian added.

Fitbit watches, Environment
There are some apps where you can interact with and tell us how you feel about the environment. Pixabay

The team says the aim of Project Coolbit is to create a personalised comfort model for each wearer, as well as crowdsourcing environmental data in the city in real-time.

“So your wearable already knows your personal comfort model, it knows your preference of the environment, the type of activities you like and some information about your physiological response,” the team said.

ALSO READ: Scientists Find Solution to Reduce Air Pollution, Develop Smart Windows

A Coolbit user could create a personalised heat safe route for a run, based on the previous information received by the wearable, according to the researcher.

“It also knows, based on the environmental information that other parties may give about the cities, the climate of the city,” the researchers said. (IANS)