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Building an eco-friendly ride-hailing experience with Google Maps Platform

Editor’s note: Today's article comes from Rishabh Sood, Chief Technology Officer, BluSmart. He shares how BluSmart, India’s first all-electric cab-hailing startup, transformed the ride-hailing experience with Google Maps Platform.

Hailing a cab from our phones used to feel magical. But over time, the service we experienced in India began to degrade to a point that it made users anxious. Customers could no longer rely on estimated arrival times, or use their preferred payment mode. When we set out to build BluSmart, our goal was simple: to restore the magic into the on-demand cab-hailing experience, with a commitment to sustainability.

BluSmart’s all-electric cabs are housed at strategically-located charging hubs.

To address these needs, we returned to the drawing board and adopted a unique, full-stack playbook: BluSmart’s all-electric cabs are housed at strategically-located charging hubs so customers don’t pay surge fees irrespective of weather, and don’t have to wait beyond the promised ETAs for their rides. We lease our own vehicles and offer driver partners regular weekly earnings, so they have a more predictable income and do not need to maintain their cars. More than seven million rides and 15,000 tons of CO2 savings later, we now plan to expand to several more cities, and triple our fleet’s size, with Google Maps Platform playing a key role in our journey.

Optimising driver ETAs

Prior to implementing Google Maps Platform, we focused on optimising the ‘dry run’ — the time a driver spends traveling to the customers and looking for their pickup location instead of driving them to their destinations. A long and unpredictable dry run hurts everyone: the rider waits longer, the driver earns less, and BluSmart has fewer free cabs on the road. After implementing Google Maps Platform’s Mobility Services, we could plan our demand more effectively, and reduce our dry run time by virtue of having more accurate ETAs and thus having to keep lower time buffers.

The BluSmart driver team

We tap into Google Maps Platform’s historical and geospatial insights to understand the traffic and weather conditions of our most frequented routes. This allows us to proactively map our network of driver partners, so when there’s a new request, we can dispatch the closest one, and arrive at the rider’s doorstep within the promised estimated time of arrival.

BluSmart’s consumer app provides customers with more accurate ETAs.

Cultivating a safer cab ride

Google Maps Platform has made the BluSmart experience smoother and slightly safer for our driver partners. Previously, they had to juggle between the BluSmart and Google Maps apps during trips, which was unsafe and slowed down our drivers mobile devices. Together with Lepton Software, we integrated Google Maps Platform turn-by-turn navigation right inside the BluSmart app with the Navigation SDK, allowing driver partners to follow directions and keep tabs on their ride’s context from one app experience.

The BluSmart driver app helps drivers focus on the road with turn-by-turn navigation integrated into the experience.

Though we already transport thousands of passengers daily, we’re still a startup, and each day is a new challenge and milestone, from onboarding numerous new electric vehicles to expanding overseas. There’s a lot for us to learn but it’s reassuring, for me especially as a CTO, to have the support of a solid technology like Google Maps Platform in this journey. It’s helped us better deliver on our promise of a superior and frictionless cab-hailing experience by solving key problems around ETAs and locations. Moving forward, we’ll continue to innovate, and come up with new ways we can empower our customers and driver partners.

Want to learn more about how your business can benefit from Google Maps Platform? Get in touch today.

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