Google reveals how it uses AI to predict traffic jams, suggest best routes on Maps

Google said its traffic predictions have been “consistently accurate” for more than 97% of trips.
| Updated on Sep 04 2020, 12:04 PM IST
Google Maps traffic updates.
Google Maps traffic updates.

Google in a new blog post details how Maps uses AI to track and identify traffic jams, and suggests the best possible routes to users. Google Maps is available in over 220 countries and territories where more than 1 billion kilometres are driven using it on a daily basis.

Google Maps is the most popular app for navigating just about anywhere. On the app, you can see upcoming traffic jams on your route that’s signified using red colour. At the same time, Google also suggests the best possible routes you can take to reach your destination. To predict future traffic, Google said it analyses historical traffic patterns for roads over time. Google then uses machine learning to combine the historical traffic patterns with real-time traffic conditions and predict future traffic.

Google said its traffic predictions have been “consistently accurate” for more than 97% of trips. To reduce even more inaccuracies, Google has partnered with DeepMind to use a machine learning architecture called “Graph Neural Networks”. “This technique is what enables Google Maps to better predict whether or not you’ll be affected by a slowdown that may not have even started yet!” Google added. It also said that this method is already seeing “significant improvements” in areas such as Berlin, Jakarta, São Paulo, Sydney, Tokyo and Washington D.C.

Google in the blog post also highlights how it has updated Maps to handle the sudden change from when there was a 50% increase in traffic due to Covid-19, and how it’s gradually coming back now. “To account for this sudden change, we’ve recently updated our models to become more agile—automatically prioritizing historical traffic patterns from the last two to four weeks, and deprioritizing patterns from any time before that,” Google said.

To find the best possible routes factors like road quality, size and directness of the driveway are taken into consideration. Google also takes authoritative data from local governments for information on speed limits, tools and roadblocks. There’s also the incident report feature on Google Maps that helps in the whole process.

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First Published Date: 04 Sep, 12:04 PM IST
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