Carpool and save with GrabShare

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 16 Feb 2017

Sharing the ride: Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh (left) and software engineer for GrabShare Dominic Widdows at the launch of the GrabShare service in Kuala Lumpur recently.

Next time you open the Grab app on your smartphone, you’ll notice a new option called GrabShare.

According to Sean Goh, country head of Grab Malaysia, GrabShare is an on-demand commercial carpooling service, which means that when a customer chooses GrabShare, he or she will be paired with another customer with a similar trip route.

With GrabShare, Grab is trying to provide a win-win situation for customers and drivers alike – by carpooling, the customer pays up to 30% less for a ride while drivers can earn a little more by picking up two bookings for a single journey.

While there is a limit of two bookings per journey, each car can hold up to four people at the same time, which means that each booking allows up to two people.

Behind the scenes, matching two bookings with any given driver is actually a lot more complex than it seems, as Dominic Widdows, Grab's software engineer based at the company's Seattle research and development centre, explains.

For one thing, the matching system has to take into account not just available drivers, but the travel time, overlap of trip routes, detour distance and current traffic conditions before sequencing pick-ups and drop-offs.

At the same time, the matching system has to work out whether customer A or customer B has to be picked up first and the order they need to be dropped off in to ensure that both get to their destinations as quickly as possible.

This matching can happen for two GrabShare customers right before pick-up, but it can also happen when the driver is already underway with the first booking.

The interesting thing is that if a customer chooses GrabShare, the price is determined right from the beginning and it’s up to 30% cheaper than a normal GrabCar ride, even if the matching system is not able to assign a second booking.

GrabShare was conceptualised, designed and engineered across Grab’s three research and development centres in Singapore, Seattle and Beijing.

The service was launched in Singapore in December 2016 and since then the company claims it has completed two million GrabShare rides and Singaporean drivers have seen their monthly incomes increased by an average of 10% as a result.

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