How does Google Maps know when a particular business is open? It turns out that AI plays a pretty big role in making sure Google can deliver accurate information to its users.
In response to the ever-fluctuating business hours caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company says it has developed a machine learning model “that automatically identifies whether office hours are likely in error, then instantly updates them with a prediction generated by AI”.
This model relies on Popular Time data collected by Google to determine when a given business is busiest. If the model notices a lot of people visiting a place when it’s supposed to be closed, well, that’s probably a sign that Google Maps has some misinformation.
Google then relies on algorithms that collect information from nearby businesses, the website of the business in question, and Street View imagery to estimate actual business hours. In some countries, it also uses an AI program called Duplex to call the business owner directly.
“With this new AI-driven approach,” says Google, “we’re on track to update business hours for more than 20 million businesses around the world over the next six months. helping you know exactly when your favorite store, restaurant or café is open. »
All of this effort to determine hours of operation demonstrates how well Google’s technologies work together. Google Maps has access to location data, historical information and Street View images; Google proper has much of the internet as well as many AI projects at its disposal.
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But the company is not entirely self-sufficient. Google says it is also piloting a program in the United States through which it will use data from “third-party imagery partners who already collect road imagery to improve delivery routes” to collect accurate speed limit data for Google Maps.
“Over time,” the company explains, “this technology will bring more details to the map that can help make your journeys safer and more efficient, such as where potholes and school areas or where new construction is occurring. (Although that limits this pilot to footage taken on public roads.)
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