How Google knows how long it will take to get to your destination

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Shane Conder
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Google Maps is the perfect tool for planning a car trip, as it explains step by step how to get from the starting point to the destination and informs you with precision on the time it will take you to do it.

It seems like real magic how this Google Maps feature works, but it isn't. Behind the calculation of the travel time of Google Maps is there a perfectly oiled machine which tends to hit the mark most of the time. It is true that one user could simulate a traffic jam using 99 cell phones at the same time, but it was just an exception that Google used to learn and improve.



Aside from this case, the reality is that the Google Maps algorithm is completely reliable if you want to know how long it will take to reach your destination. Let's solve the mystery and let's find out how it does it, below.

This is how Google Maps knows how long it will take to reach your destination.

How does Google know how long it will take to reach your destination?

The first information that Google Maps takes into account to calculate the traffic of the route and, therefore, how long it will take to reach your destination, are the anonymous user data who have activated the location services.

If users who use the navigation mode of Google Maps yes move at a speed less than the one indicated on the road, Google interprets that there is a traffic jam in that area and applies it directly to the map. How does? By coloring that area in Orange - cars move slowly - or in red -the traffic is total, the cars are stationary-.


Once users' scrolling speed is back to normal, Google will remove the traffic jam from the map. On the other hand, the algorithm also uses data provided by users themselves when they report accidents or traffic jams directly in the Google Maps application. If a collision is recorded in one of the sections of the route, the duration of the trip will be extended.


In Google Maps, you can add accidents, speed cameras or traffic jams to the map.

Google's algorithm can distinguish between vehicle types: cars, motorcycles and others, so if you identify that a motorcycle is moving in a traffic jam, you know that this does not mean that the cars can move normally. All this information is also applied in the calculation of the time it takes to reach the destination point you have established on your route.


Another procedure that Google takes to find out this information is to compare your speed with the maximum speed limit of the road you are on. Therefore, evaluate your speed, that of the limit and that of other users that are on the road to determine the remaining travel time. If you slow down, Google Maps will adjust the time.

Furthermore, Google also gets information from traffic sensors and satellite data in so that its algorithm calculates the time from the starting point to the destination.


All these are the data that make up that perfectly oiled machine of we were talking about at the beginning. Now you know that thanks to the anonymous data of the users with the activated location, those of the traffic sensors and those of the satellites, Google can accurately calculate how long it will take to reach your destination.

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