Google a Cab – Intelligent Fleet Services Management

Want to know how far the cable guy is from your house when he’s coming for a service call? Or need a cab for a trip across town? Would you like to painlessly find and rent a moving van to relocate?

Google seems to have taken a shine to providing information about transit and driving directions. Looking at a new patent application from Google gives us a peek at ways they may help folks connect with taxi cabs, shuttles, and limousines, as well as finding local and long haul company transportation for goods and business service vehicles that are part of a fleet:

User location driven identification of service vehicles
Invented by Mark Crady, Michael J. Chu and Russell Y. Shoji
US Patent Application 20060217885
Published September 28, 2006
Filed: March 24, 2005


A vehicle position aggregation system receives position information for service vehicles from various fleet management systems, and maintains the current location of the vehicles in a database, including information identifying each vehicle’s associated fleet and related contact information. End users can query the vehicle position aggregation system to obtain information about service vehicles in the vicinity of the user’s input location.

The patent provides a number of examples of how this might be useful to both service providers and end users of the system. Here’s one example:

In one embodiment, a user can input a location to the vehicle position aggregation system, and obtain the locations of nearby vehicles for hire, such as taxis. The user provides the desired location (either manually or automatically), and the vehicle position aggregation system determines which of the vehicles for hire are nearby that location, and available for usage. The user can limit the search query with respect to various attributes of the vehicles for hire, such as company, type, fare, and so forth. Related information for the vehicle for hire service such as telephone number, is likewise provided. The vehicle location information and related information is displayed to the user on the user’s particular device, whether that is a personal computer, cellular telephone, palm top computer, or otherwise. The preferred display representation includes a map display of the area surrounding the user’s input location, and icons representing the locations of the nearby vehicles for hire.

The scope of the patent is much broader than that illustration, and can also include such things as helping locate a delivery vehicle that may be bringing a package to someone, or finding out where a service truck may be when it is scheduled to arrive at a location. The types of fleets involved could be taxi cabs, but they could also be tow trucks or delivery vans.

Will this be something that Google goes on to develop, or did they file the patent to protect the idea in case it becomes feasible in the future? It’s difficult to tell, but it would be interesting to see someone put some of these ideas into action.

4 thoughts on “Google a Cab – Intelligent Fleet Services Management”

  1. That would be crazy-awesome! It would mean no more “We will have somebody there between 8a-6p” from the cable company! 😛

  2. Hey, ck.

    Last time I had an appointment with the cable company, they promised three days ahead that they would show up at 9:30 am. We had 40 mph winds that morning, and inches of rain. And they showed up on time. It seemed unearthly, like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

    There are a lot of ideas I like about this. It seems odd somehow, coming from Google.

    But the idea of being able to easily find transportation from an airport or train station you’ve never been to before, or hail a taxi while eating the last bite of dessert or drinking the final sip during last call. I like it.

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