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Technical Perspective: Finding the Sweet Spot Amid Accuracy and Performance

By Pascal Van Hentenryck

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 64 No. 11, Page 120

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The field of transportation and logistics has witnessed fundamental transformations in the last decade, due to the convergence of seemingly unrelated technologies. The fast pace of innovations has been particularly striking for an industry that had been relatively stagnant for a long time.

Taxi services were born in England where a public coach service for hire was first documented in 1605. The Hackney Carriage Act, which legalized horse-drawn carriages for hire, was passed in Parliament in 1635, and a similar service was started in Paris in 1637. Public transit was invented by Blaise Pascal in 1662 through a service known as the "carriage," which was quite popular and operated for 15 years. Both taxi services and public transit adopted new technologies as they became available. Electric battery-powered taxis became available in the streets of London in 1897, and were introduced in New York city the same year. The late 1800s saw the emergence of electric and motor buses. Taxis became widespread in the early 20th century, adopting taxi meters and then, in the late 1940s, two-way radios allowing for communications between drivers and dispatching offices. The automation and optimization of these dispatching services started in the 1980s, but no major evolution took place for several decades thereafter.


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