Google patent offers shoppers driverless taxis

Google has been awarded a patent for an advertising service that could see businesses subsidise the cost of autonomous transport systems to get customers to their physical store.

The system will take into account the potential cost and benefit to the advertiser and weigh up factors such as the consumer’s location and their alternative possible modes of transport to assess how much of a barrier transportation is to the consumer. Google said it would also consider how much the retailer’s rivals would be willing to pay to have a consumer transported to their own business.

The system could also target advertisements to the consumer while they are on their journey, through tailored ads to the customer’s smartphone based on data on their browsing and online shopping history.

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Advertisers could also decide whether or not to offer a customer the service based on their purchasing history. They could prioritise spend on customers who consistently use the service and make purchases from the retailer, over those who do not make substantial purchases.

Since Google showcased its driverless car technology in 2011, momentum behind self-driving cars has grown. The US state of Nevada passed a law in March 2012 allowing the operation of autonomous cars in the state, a ruling that was followed by Florida’s courts a month later.

Last month, the UK government also announced that it is looking to foster the development of driverless car technology and will offer a £10m prize fund for a town or city to become a testing ground for driverless cars.

In September 2012, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers forecast that by the year 2040, driverless cars will account for up to 75 per cent of cars on the road worldwide.

Earlier this month, Google banded together leading tech firms and car makers to create an industry alliance aimed at bringing its Android platform into connected cars. Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia have joined Google to form the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA).


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