updated 11:35 am EDT, Thu April 10, 2008
Microsoft Clearflow maps
Microsoft announced on Thursday it will launch ClearFlow, a software technology for its driving directions website that will help users avoid traffic jams. ClearFlow spent five years in development by the software giant's AI researchers, and will be available at no cost for 72 US metropolitan cities. It will take into account details such as sporting events, current weather and time of day to get drivers to their destinations in the shortest amount of time.
The new software may, for example, instruct drivers to remain on a busy highway rather than take side streets during rush hour, as the busy road and waiting at street lights would take longer. What the ClearFlow program doesn't take into account, however, are real-time updates such as road / highway closures or accidents.
The software's development process involved Microsoft employees volunteering to outfit their cars with GPS units that would collect data over four years on nearly 17,000 trips, that covered over 125,000 miles of Seattle's roads. With this data in hand, Microsoft researchers transferred the Seattle model to other cities via algorithms.
There is no word on release date or the cities ClearFlow will cover yet, or whether or not the directions could be sent to a mobile device. [by MacNN Staff