Google acquired tech startup Urban Engines last week. Urban Engines is a company focused on providing location-based analytics for urban planning. The company’s main product is a transportation emulator that tests real-time traffic scenarios to plan better routes. Google’s integration of this technology into its already strong Maps service will give it a huge leg up in the competition.


Google has had huge focuses on collecting map data and representing that data in a unique way for users. Urban Engines technology, however, allows Google to apply that data in a meaningful way. Urban Engines traffic emulator can be used to plan delivery routes, navigate road work, and can be leveraged during disasters to get from A to B. The transportation emulator does this by “stitching together” location and timestamp information, which it then applies multiple “what if” scenarios to get real-time route optimizations.


Google Maps head Jen Fitzpatrick has gone on record saying that Google’s focus in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) race is building out its mapping databases. Urban Engines acquisition will not only add to that data but allow Google to organize and utilize that data better.

With this update in mind, it would be interesting to see how much Google Maps has improved once Google has implemented it into the application. We guess it’s just a matter of time.

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