On-Line Real-Time Ridesharing
An On-Line Real-Time Ridesharing System is a computerized control system designed to connect riders, in the moment, with drivers who could give them a ride. No pre-existing schedules would apply. All connections would be arranged at computer speeds in real time.
Riders and drivers, when coming on-line, would communicate their locations and destinations through cell phones and a speech capable interface to the central traffic representation computer. The computer system, in real-time, would optimize the ridesharing arrangements and accordingly route the travelers.
The world’s most enormous system of roadways has already been built. The world’s most extensive inventory of rolling stock has already been purchased. Experienced operators abound. For little more than the price of a supervisory control system and a public relations campaign, the public could have what might well be seen, in effect, as an additional transportation system.
In General, How Would It Work?
Drivers and riders would communicate with the system using cellular phones. They could be speaking any language since they would be talking to an artificially intelligent multi-lingual computer.
Each traveler, when coming on-line, would be assigned some computing power. This can conveniently be thought of as a virtual personal computer (see Ridesharing System Diagram in Figures). The personal computer (pc) would have some variety of an artificial intelligence (AI) program to optimize utility to the traveler. Using voice interpretation and speech synthesis, the AI program would optimize communications. It would compare ride possibilities, screen potential co-travelers, keep track of location, monitor traffic conditions, update accounts, and could provide additional optional services.
A driver available to take riders would call and announce their destination and current location. On a weekday morning they would just need to call when leaving the house and give their name. Their virtual PC would know where they live and where they work. Similarly, all normal information would be default. Only changes from the usual would ever need to be inputted.
A rider would call to announce their need of a ride. Their assigned PC would take in the request and immediately make a ride request to the traffic representation computer, which would report similarly destined drivers upstream of the rider.
The rider’s PC would examine the queue, “talk” to the various drivers’ PCs, calculate arrival times and compatibility and determine the best ride. When the rider’s PC and the driver’s PC “agree” they would direct their respective parties to a convenient rendezvous.
During the trip the driver’s PC would monitor and advise on traffic conditions. At the end of the trip it would update accounts. Drivers would be credited for driving and riders would be debited. In the beginning, a start-up subsidy could be allocated to encourage all participants.
The traffic representation computer containing the rapidly changing traffic situation must be suitably backed up. The technology used in major banking systems or air traffic control may be applicable. The ridesharing service companies would be key to the overall success of the ride-sharing system. They would handle the difficult and open-ended job of interacting with the customers and satisfying their needs. A modest share of each transaction could reimburse them, potentially quite well.