As an Uber driver with three years rideshare experience under my belt, I have always used the app to anticipate where I’m going to get my next Uber ride. The app makes it convenient to check where competing drivers are in relation to my location.
The app only shows a maximum of eight vehicles with my own vehicle in the mix. This is despite the fact that many more drivers may be in the area. I craftily position myself in perfect reach of three happening night clubs and sit there ready to pounce- as the closest driver gets the ride right? Well, that used to be the way the app worked.
How is Uber Ride Matching Done in the Past?
Initially, Uber alerts the closest driver to the passenger. However, road and traffic conditions affect the driver’s travel time. This often results in longer-than-anticipated wait times for riders who are rarely on the patient side.
When you think about it, this way of matching Uber rides isn’t efficient for both riders and drivers. These days, however, Uber and Lyft operate under an algorithm they call batch matching.
What is Batch Matching?
Batch matching —despite sounding like some forward thinking crop fertilising method— is an algorithm that works to get all passengers a prompt pick-up. However, it’s not necessarily the quickest in every scenario.
A passenger may have to wait an extra two minutes for another passenger to get their ride three minutes quicker. In the end, the averages work out, resulting in passengers overall getting realistic and quicker wait times. Of course, this assumes that every driver is going to accept every ride. This is why they regard acceptance rates as much as they do— and severely frown at cancellations— they are throwing a wrench into the system.
Is it Working?
Uber claims that the typical wait time for their Uber rides across the globe is less than five minutes. Take into consideration that there are approximately 17 million rides that drivers perform globally on any given day and you know their batch matching system is definitely working.
The next time you get an Uber ride which you think isn’t the best base on your location, remember how batch matching works. Just as Uber’s Matching Scientist Eion O’ Mahony said, “we’re saving years of time everyday.” The few minutes you shave off per ride everyday can easily add up to huge savings on gas. Also, it gives you additional opportunities on Uber rides, making your shift more rewarding.