Google’s Prediction API tells car where to take you

May 10th, 2011

Why not? From a Google Press release:

Ford researchers are applying Google’s new Prediction API to more than two years of their own predictive driver behavior research and analysis. The Google API can convert information such as historical driving data – where a driver has traveled and at what time of day for example – into useful real-time predictions, such as where a driver is headed at the time of departure.

“Anticipating the driver’s destination is just one way that Ford is investigating predicting driver behavior,” said McGee. “This information can ultimately be used to optimize vehicle performance attributes such as fuel efficiency and driveability.”

And how will this work?

• After a vehicle owner opts in to use the service, an encrypted driver data usage profile is built based on routes and time of travel. In essence, the system learns key information about how the driver is using the vehicle.

• Upon starting the vehicle, Google Prediction will use historical driving behavior to evaluate given the current time of day and location to develop a prediction of the most likely destination and how to optimize driving performance to and from that location.

• An on-board computer might say, “Good morning, are you going to work?” If the driver is in fact going to work, the response would be, “Yes,” and then an optimized powertrain control strategy would be created for the trip. A predicted route of travel could include an area restricted to electric-only driving. Therefore, the plug-in hybrid could program itself to optimize energy usage over the total distance of the route in order to preserve enough battery power to switch to all-electric mode when traveling within the EV-only zone.

At this point, obligatory quotes from Omniveillance shouldn’t be necessary, but stuff I wrote almost four years ago keeps coming true.

In an interview conducted by the Financial Times, Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitted the company’s future goal is to organize people’s daily lives.139 Specifically, Schmidt augured that one day “users [will] . . . be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?’ ” and Google would be able to answer those questions.140 Udi Manber, Google’s Vice President of Engineering in charge of Google Search, reaffirmed this sentiment, and posited that Google has “to understand as much as we can user intent and give [users] the answer they need.”141 Mr. Schmidt acknowledged that the primary obstacle to this goal is not the technology, but the lack of information Google possesses about people.142

Or, where should I go?