Earlier this year was reported that Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs wanted to build a city from the ground up to test ideas it has for improving city life, while that report was followed by a separate one that claimed the team was looking to pitch the idea to Larry Page. Now, The Guardian has obtained a handful of documents that offer more details on the company’s plans for improving life in the city – specifically when it comes to transportation.
The documents show that Alphabet is looking to test initiatives in Columbus, Ohio, which recently won the Smart City Challenge held by Sidewalk Labs in junction with the Department of Transportation. The contest was designed to identify cities that would be good testing ground for high-tech initiatives, with the winning location taking home $50 million.
The documents obtained by The Guardian show how Alphabet is looking to deploy its smart traffic platform, Flow. As part of the plan, the company will integrate fare cost from every major form of transportation so when a user enters a destination into Maps, the best route based on price and duration will be presented.
Additionally, Sidewalk Labs proposes that low-income users be able to take advantage of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft with their discounted or free bus passes. But where Google really wants to change things is parking.
Any car that operates under the ride-sharing idea suggested by Sidewalk Labs would carry a camera that counts public parking spaces and parking signs. From there, Google would integrate that data into Google Maps and help drivers find open parking spaces. Building on that, private garages would also be able to add their spaces to Google’s database. In doing this, those garages could start offering surge pricing, charging more when spots are in high demand.
Of course, all of these ideas have to be approved by the city of Columbus, but Sidewalk Labs hopes to start working directly with city officials by August, roll out its parking solution by January, and roll out its ride-sharing service by next July.