Last year a survey by Skoda found that 66% of parents said they sometimes feel like a taxi service for their children spending about 3 hours a week ferrying them about. The parents surveyed said they are driving over 1,600 miles a year transporting their children which would be the equivalent of £12,565 if based on the average fare of a London taxi.
On the back of the research Skoda launched the Skoda Parent Taxi app which allowed parents to charge their kids for rides in the currency of chores. It appears the app is no longer available, but the fact still stands that parents spend an awful lot of time driving their children to and from places, as well as hanging around waiting to pick them up.
Instead of ‘charging’ children for what are mainly necessary trips, we wanted to see whether we could use data to improve the parent taxi service instead.
Building a pickup service
Our autumn update includes the ability for a user to send a message or request via the Eloy app which is stored in the Driver’s Log. When the recipient reads the message there is an option to launch navigation to the location that is linked to the message or request.
Specifically, users can generate a pickup request, and we see this as something particularly useful for parents who are picking up children from school, friends’ homes, or out-of-school activities, or collecting their children’s friends and acting as chaperones.
Being a parent can sometimes feel like running a taxi service
We built this feature for a number of reasons. Firstly, for the app to be fully handsfree we wanted drivers to be able to view the message and pickup location and launch navigation without needing to touch the device. Secondly, mirroring Uber’s passenger pickup capability but for private cars would simplify situations where a driver is trying to find a family member or friend whilst keeping their eyes predominantly on the road and hands on the wheel.
To build our passenger pickup feature we looked at a few important key areas:
- Generating a request for the pickup
- Listing the pickup request
- Selecting the pickup request
- Confirmation that the driver is on the way
Suggested locations for Uber drivers to make faster, easier pickups
Eloy, of course, has a major difference from the Uber app. The nature of Uber’s business means that it has a complex app platform with all the drivers on one side (using the driver’s app) and the passengers on the other side (using the passenger’s app), whereas in any one car group Eloy’s users will all know each other which means it can have a homogenous app journey where both drivers and passengers can see each other’s requests.
Due to this, we needed to focus on specific instances where generated data might have wider value and can plug into future services and features. School pickups, for example, tend to occur where there is significant traffic congestion, so pickup data may be able to help develop solutions to reduce this such as developing a traffic flow system to find parking spaces that are available for immediate pickup.
Managing pickup requests
With this in mind, the passenger needs to be able to generate a request and after the driver and Eloy receive and review the request information may need to be passed back to the passenger to confirm the pickup or to change the location to one more suitable.
Registering the pickup request is simple; an entry will be generated in the Driver’s Log and a push notification will be sent to drivers. Drivers can then accept the request either in-app or via voice controls. When a pickup request is accepted this automatically launches navigation to the pickup location which we can either optimise, or leave as the passenger generated location.
Demo of the Eloy pickup request feature
Passengers will be able to see that a driver has accepted their pickup request via the app or with a push notification. They will then be able to track the car as it navigates towards them and get an estimated arrival time. If they need to move to a more suitable pickup location then the app will be able to let them know.
There are some comparisons that can be made with location sharing services you can already find within standard smartphone features and commonly used apps, such as WhatsApp. However, we envisage that Eloy’s passenger pickup will become substantially more useful as we gather more data and information, such as other pickup requests happening nearby.
Whilst getting the car to the desired pickup location is relatively easy, ensuring that it is a place where the driver can legally and safely stop, is not available with other apps. Over time, we hope we can achieve a better outcome for parents, children, and schools.