After Uber noticed that if you walked to a more convenient pickup spot — instead of your exact location — that it would save you time and money, they decided to make a change to their system.
Uber Pool in Manhattan already allows you to meet at a certain location to be picked up and grouped with a number of other customers. But now, Uber has updated its app's algorithm to incorporate more short walks into your Manhattan Uber Pool rides.
This means that if Uber's algorithm notices that the next street over is less congested or that a bus lane is coming up, it will tailor your pickup and drop off to avoid those potential delays.
According to Uber's blog:
After realizing that a short walk could save people both time and money, we knew we were on to something. Our data was starting to show that we could pick more people up and get riders to their destinations faster. Since then, we've been refining our algorithms to create a flexible, affordable carpooling product that is customized for Manhattan.
Uber Pool wants to ensure that drivers choose the best corner for a passenger to walk to. The company realized that pickups before lights are an inconvenient time for drivers, and now updated its app to choose corners past lights on the right-hand side of the street. This allows drivers to pick up multiple passengers on one side without ever having to switch lanes.
The company also updated its algorithm to include more direct routes and fewer turns. Uber Pool cut down its turn for every mile by 20%. The goal is to bring Pool customers the smoothest and least busiest ride possible. This means avoiding detours, traffic, and staying on less populated avenues to ensure more direct routes.
Lastly, the app now recalculates your drop off spot every few seconds as you get closer to your destination. If Uber's algorithm finds your drop off location to be in a bus lane or in a traffic area, you will be dropped off at a more convenient spot for your money.
Uber calls this being street smart. An interesting choice of words from a company that always seems to find itself in one jam or another.