An idea for Google: Google Hike!

Wouldn’t it be nice if on top of navigating you to where you want to go, Google Maps Navigation also match you safely with people whos traveling the same way to split the fuel cost? Its easily doable. Let me show you how it could work:

From the driver’s perspectives
Setting up
1. Go to Google Hike settings (yea thats what i am calling it).
2. Enter your car information (year, model etc).
3. Enter bank account infor, so Google can wire money to you.
4. Upload your portrait, so that riders can match Google ID with the driver.
5. Enter additional information to make you attractive to hikers (eg. “All welcome :)”)

Taking Hikers
1. Now the next time you go out and you are willing to take hiker, turn on Navigation, tell it where you are going.
2. Enable Google Hike “Take riders” options and tell it how many hikers are you willing to take.
3. Drive as usual
4. When google find a match, it will ask you to pull-over and tell you:

  • Who’s asking for a ride
  • What do they look like
  • Whats their rating*
  • where are they now (will be on your way)
  • where do they want to be drop off.
  • Estimated payment for the ride**

5. If the requesting hiker seems ok, press “accept” and Google will navigate you to the pick up location.
6. Find the hiker, match the hiker with the portrait Google sent you (hiker will do the same).
7. After the hiker gets on the car, ask them to enter their “Google Hike Code”*** into your phone to confirm a pick up has been made.
8. Drive to the drop off location, pull in Google Hike and press “Hiker Journey completed”, a price calculated base on actual distance traveled will appear along with a Google Hiker Code enter field, you then ask the Hiker to enter their Google Hike Code again to confirm a complete deal.
9. Google will wire money into your designated account.
10. Google Hike will ask you to rate the hikers (were they honorable hikers?)
11. Continue your journey, or enable Google Hike again to find other hikers.

From the hiker’s perspective

Setting up
1. Go to Google Hiker setting, upload your portrait, and comment on how nice of a hiker you are.
2. Enter your credit card information (you wont need to if Google Checkout already have your credit card infor).

Ready to hike
1. Open up Google Maps, tell it where you want to go.
2. Select Hike (it will be with other transportation options).
3. Google Hike will generate a list of drivers whos travelling the same way with the recommend drivers on the top along with these information:

  • Whos the driver
  • what does s/he look like
  • what car is s/he driving
  • when can s/he pick you up
  • what is the driver’s rating*
  • where can the driver drop you off
  • Estimated cost of the ride**

4. Select the desire driver and send request
5. If the request is accepted by the driver, Google will send you a randomly generated “Google Hike Code”.
6. While waiting for the pick up, Google will continuously update the location of the driver on your Google Maps
7. The driver arrives at the pickup location, you match the driver’s face with the portait that Google informed you.
8. Get on the car, enter “Google Hike Code” into the driver’s phone to confirm the pickup.
9. Arrive at drop-off location, the driver will present his/her phone again with a price, check it, then enter the same Google Hike Code again, and get off the car.
10. Google will automatically deduct fare from your credit card for the ride
11. Google Hike will then ask you to rate the driver.
12. hopefully you would have arrive at your goal destination, if not, use Google Hike to find you another diver for the next step of your journey.


Now let me address a few concept and issues:

*Rating: this is an aggregate rating to help users select better hikers/drivers

Drivers have a few pricing options
Google recommended price: this option will automatically price the journey base on, the distance, fuel cost, supply of drivers verses number of hikers, etc.
Adjusted Google recommended price: driver can increase or decrease their price on top of the Google recommended price for a fixed or percentage amount, depending on their preference.
Manually enter price/distance for maximum customization.
Free, if you are feeling extra generous

Auto accept
A driver can set up its Google Hike to automatically accept hikers that qualify certain conditions, such as rating, gender etc. So when there is a hike request, the driver wont need to pull-over to scrutinize the request sender’s profile, instead, just let Google guide you to the hiker.

Scheduled ride
Google can allow drivers and hikers to input scheduled journey before hand, so they can plan out their journey.

Security concern
There really is minimal security concerns here. Drivers and hikers will always have a portrait to check to make sure the users are who they claim to be. Moreover, there is also the GPS tracking for the entire journey as well as user’s rating to encourage good behavior.

Legal concerns
HItchhiking is illegal in some country (Australia for one), but really this is not hitchhiking, its a cross between taxi and hitchhiking.

Whats in it for Google?
The most direct benefit is the revenue generated from taking a fix or percentage transaction fee. Its not expensive to implement, as it is build on many of Google’s existing capabilities and services. And it make Google that much more indispensable in the location services eco-system. Thinking into the future, this service could be used along with Google’s driverless experiment; encourage real life identity and online identity linking; and potentially transform Taxi/bus industry. Lastly, it fits perfectly with Google’s mission, its organized transportation related information and make it useful to both drivers and hikers.

More on Taxis
This system can transform the Taxi industry, if it doesn’t wip them out with user drivers. Taxi drivers would be rated. Taxis and customers no longer need reply on Taxi dispatching operators to connect them to their Taxis. It will just be a far superior system then the current model, if implemented.


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