Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mapping needs

Of all the wonderful products Google has given us, I have suggestions that I am sure travel enthusiasts and ardent lovers of driving must have thought of before. Google maps should have a “cross country road trip planner” application in the US (or in any country for that matter). In simple words, it means once you input your start destination and your final destination, Gmaps plans your trip for you in its entirety.

Of course, you need to input a little more information and specify a few parameters. You can start with is letting Gmaps know how long (the number of hours) you are comfortable driving every day. Let’s say you want to drive cross country from west to east, starting from Seattle and ending in New York city (NYC). Gmaps shows the shortest route to be around 2,900 miles that takes a total travel time of 1 day 22 hours.

Driving the shortest possible distance, it would still take someone 6 days to reach NYC, assuming 8 hours of driving every day. But in reality, it is going to take longer (if you are a single driver). When you drive along the states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, you might as well know what the places of tourist interest and the scenic routes are. So if you allow a detour of let’s say 50 miles radius, it can make minor deviations and suggest a new route that will take you through more scenic roads, hills and mountains, or places of tourist interest as per your specification.

If you are driving 8-10 hours a day, you might as well get some good sleep. When you input your daily budget for food and living and the kind of food you prefer, the application will point you to places of eating and stay as per your budget. The route also needs to be accessible to rest areas and grocery stores (for a quick snack) instead of hundreds of miles of driving through corn fields and uninhabited areas.

Finally, it should give you an option where you can input the locations of your friends you would like to visit during the drive. Gmaps would be able to reroute in a way that will maximize your visiting friends living in different states.

Gmaps should be able to do all this during the planning phase of the trip so that once you are out there on the road, it has figured it all – where will you eat and drink, who will you visit, where will you crash, how long will you drive, what will you be visiting, etc.

Input parameters à Start destination

Final destination

Daily budget for food and living

Number of hours of driving per day

Drive through scenic routes/places of tourist interest (up to XX mile deviation)

Maximum grocery stores, rest areas, and gas stations

Location of friends

Output parameters à Start and end destination for every day

Where to eat

Where to stay

Who to visit

How long to drive


NB: This post is not exclusively targeted towards Google, and is not an endorsement of Google. It could be any XYZ company or even a GPS doing this. It made more sense for me to take Google as an example because that is what I use to plan my trips.


yugun said...

have you tried googling 'road trip planner' there are a bunch of tools..might not meet your exact specs..but might meet most of the reqmts. AAA' trip tik or yahoo's trip planner (http://travel.yahoo.com/trip-explore) seems to do a good job

silcador said...

The most exciting part of a trip is the planning phase, when the possibilities are endless, and you are free to choose! Especially if there is enough time in hand. If Google (or XYZ) does all the work, where is the fun?!

sunshine said...

yugun- That's quite useful to know, thank you :)

silcador- I completely agree with you, that it's more fun to plan things yourself. Yet if I was the one to design a program like that, I think that would be equally exciting :)