Microsoft is launching a free application that will plot routes for car journeys by cross-referencing them with historical traffic data, according to the New York Times.
The result, the company claims, will be a vastly improved route finder, which the company is dubbing ClearFlow. The system works by not only considering highways but also side streets and other factors, such as weather and local sporting events.
The five-year project was the brainchild of Eric Horvitz, an AI researcher at Microsoft Labs in Seattle. He came up with the concept while, predictably, stuck in traffic.
“It was awful,” he said. “Everything seemed to be backed up.”
“It hit me that we had to do all the side streets.”
“We really needed to understand the whole city.”
Microsoft employees offered to carry GPS systems in their cars and the software for the city soon built up so that the fastest routes could be found, even if they seemed counterintuitive.
The system is now being rolled out covering 72 US cities and will be available via Microsoft Live.
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