Google Awarded Patent For Ad-Supported, Free Taxi Rides

Google has secured a patent for a system of ad-supported taxis, which would offer customers rides to physical retail locations.

Google Awarded Patent For Ad-Supported, Free Taxi Rides
Wikimedia Commons / Mariordo

Google's digital ad dominance might soon have a very tangible benefit for shoppers — a free taxi ride.

"The tech giant just received a patent linking online ads to free taxi rides paid for by advertisers — an option to bring more people to their businesses." (Via KOVR)

The patent explains Google could use its knowledge of customer locations, route mapping and advertising prices to offer shoppers free or discounted lifts to retailer locations.

An algorithm would track where people are and what they're looking to buy. If it were cost-effective, a retailer could pay Google to offer a potential customer a ride to its store, using messages delivered on smartphones or stationary kiosks.

So no, CNET says, this isn't for the weekly grocery run.

"If someone's searching for cars to buy, then serving an ad that offers them a taxi to speed them to the point of purchase is a very cost-effective notion If they're searching, however, for dental floss, then it might not be worth the advertiser's time and money to offer them a ride in a Prius."

But Ars Technica points out a Google Taxi could eventually get more affordable, especially if Google moves forward with its driverless car project.

"An advertiser paying for a bus, train, or taxi might be a little too expensive today, but imagine a self-driving electric vehicle, where driving around doesn't burn gas or involve paying a taxi driver, and suddenly transportation becomes a lot cheaper."

That is, if the law catches up. Currently only California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and Washington D.C. have legalized autonomous vehicles. (Via the Center for Internet and Society)

In any case, the project appears to remain in the patent stage for now. Don’t sell your car just yet.