Google to offer free rides in self-driving cars for shoppers

24 Jan 2014

Google self-driving car image via Wikimedia Commons

Another patent by Google has been revealed to show it intends to combine its self-driving car technology with advertising that will result in a consumer being driven for free to a store or business for a shopping trip.

Google has been busy in the last few years and 2013 was no different. Among the company’s 1,185 patents last year was one that silenced questions surrounding how it could commercially implement its self-driving car technology.

Here’s how it works: In conjunction with retailers and business owners, Google will allow them to put their advertising through an app which would target smartphone users.

The twist is that Google may then offer a smartphone user a free ride in one of its self-driving cars to the store or business, and even offer a discount on the service the advertiser is offering.

Google patent

A proposed model of how the Google app will offer the service

In most cases, however, the average person is more likely to be offered discounts in-store, public transport and taxi fares.

As is the case with nearly all advertising through smart devices, the adverts will use people’s information to build a picture of a potential user. In this case, a “consumer’s current location, the consumer’s most likely route and form of transportation (such as train, personal car, taxi, rental car, or shared vehicle), the consumer’s daily agenda, the price competing advertisers are willing to pay for the customer to be delivered to alternate locations, and other costs.”

The potential for this form of advertising is huge for smaller retailers who have argued that they cannot compete with large shopping centres and discount stores.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic