Self driving cars can reduce the the amount of time a car sits in a parking space because once it finishes dropping off a person, it can immediately go for the next rider; however, a society with self driving cars still requires further advancements in technology, governmental approval, and social acceptance of moral implications. What we can do now is take further advance of the sharing economy, a near $30 billion industry. Not only does Hitch 'n Ditch share the cars themselves, it shares the labor of driving.
What it does
Hitch 'n Ditch allows users to have the freedom of a car sharing service such as Maven or Zipcar but further aims to reduce congestion by utilizing "last mile delivery". Rather than giving the user full autonomy, within the last mile of driving, the user will be prompted to pick up the next person to drive the car.
Additionally, the car will keep track of frequent driving patterns to appropriately match car pools without providing too much overhead.
How we built it
We heavily leveraged Google Maps APIs to plot pick up points and look up destinations. Though ideally the car is seamlessly handed off from one driver the next, occasionally, the car will have to be parked. In such instances, SmartCar provided an API so that users may locate and wirelessly unlock the car which may be parked anywhere; not limited to designated drop off zones.
From a technical standpoint, we used Google Cloud Functions to allow us to run a serverless architecture that is powered by a static React based frontend.
Challenges we ran into
Ultimately, such a path finding algorithm is NP Hard and relies on readily available customers. As such, we aim to target this service in heavily congested areas such as downtown Los Angeles while leaving the suburban environments for traditional ride sharing applications.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Strong implementation of various Google technologies in a user friendly and aesthetic interface
What we learned
How to work with Google Maps APIs and SmartCar.
What's next for Hitch 'n Ditch
Create a pilot program within downtown Los Angeles. This would require a set of leased cars which can be sourced from automobile dealers. Unlike Lyft or Uber, there is no need to create both a supply (drivers) and demand (riders) since for this service they are the same (with the exception of users that do not have driver's licenses).
In addition to improving the algorithm for real time carpool and last mile delivery matching, we hope to apply predictions using specific user's history as well as daily cycles (rush hour) to preemptively group users.