Google awarded patent for free, advertisement-powered taxi service

To those who say that self-driving cars have nothing to do with Google’s core business selling ads, listen up: Google was just awarded a patent for an ad-powered taxi service. The patent, which was first spotted by TechCrunch, would allow advertisers to offer potential customers a free ride to their place of business. This would solve one of the biggest problems for brick-and-mortar retailers: getting customers to their location. 

Google may soon offer a new service that combines its advertising business with its knowledge about local transport options, taxis and – in the long run – autonomous cars. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week granted Google a patent for arranging free (or highly discounted) transportation to an advertiser’s business location. Here’s how it works. Say a Vegas casino really wants your business. Not only could it offer you some free coins, but if it deems the cost worthwhile (using Google’s automated algorithms, of course), it could just offer you a free taxi ride or send an autonomous car to pick you up.

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