How does Uber match up its riders and drivers? How does Uber's algorithm work in terms of paring up users? Is it not by distance?
Why does my wait time change from 2 minues as it appears on the map to something longer?
Uber algorthm works in mysterious ways. Here are reasons you don't always get the closest.
Uber's algorithm works in mysterious ways. From the riders' perspective, you see on your screen the exact location of the driver and that he is 2 minutes away. Then the moment you request a ride, the driver is in an entirely different location and now he is 5 minutes away. Have you had that experience?
Here are few considerations for why this happens:
- It's the time not the distance. Uber uses the duration it takes the driver to get to you NOT the distance from you. There may be a driver closer, but if he is going the opposite direction on a one-way road, there may be another that can get to you quicker.
- Drivers do not have to accept your ride. The "closest" driver may have declined or ignored your request. When this happens, it automatically goes to the next driver. (The driver has 15 seconds to accept.) The passenger does not get to see the inner workings of how their request is tossed around, but it's all happening.
- Uber wants newbies to get a good experience. New drivers tend to be matched with highly rated riders, so they get the best experience. This is part of their attempts to improve retention and ease them into the job. The jury is out on whether this works the other way around. (we hear no)
- Ratings do matter. Uber tends to match drivers and riders based on their ratings. It isn't always "highly rated drivers get connected with highly rated riders," however. Uber has a complex algorithm on how the pairings should happen.
- Each driver and rider has a blacklist. If you have ever rated a driver with a 1-star or 2-star rating, you will never be paired with that driver. The reverse is also true.
- Drivers can specify preferences. Uber drivers have an ability to specify what type of requests to receive. If the vehicle type qualifies for multiple Uber services, say UberX and UberXL, the driver can specify one or the other or both. Drivers can also specify when the shift is nearing an end, in order to avoid very long trips. Drivers can also specify which general direction they are trying to go (say to go home towards the end of a shift). All of these preferences will be considered into how the pairings are made.
Can you think of any others?
Uber Driver, CEO of TaxiFareFinder and Unleashed, LLC