Ever wondered how the taxi driver is so familiar with a city’s short cuts and never find it difficult to reach his destination? Microsoft has taken a clue from cab drivers and all set to launch a new device which would enable everybody to drive cars with a taxi drivers’ confidence. Microsoft’s latest venture into the route finder service shows that a virtual cab driver could cut nearly 10 per cent traffic jams while travelling in crowded urban streets.

Known as T-Drive, the device monitors the routes used by cabbies at different times of day. The researchers used data spanning three months (a total of 400 million kilometers covered by 33,000 taxis in Beijing, China). Then, the routes were put together to find the roads taxi drivers prefer. The system could then choose a route based on the popular roads used by the taxi driver every time a navigation request is put.

During a test on road, engineers asked two drivers to travel between two particular locations in Beijing. While one was asked to drive as per the route suggested by the T-Drive, the other route was suggested by Google Maps. After over 30 trials, it was found that the two systems suggested routes that were nearly of the same length. However, the T-Drive outsmarted the Google Map by avoiding traffic lights. T-Drive technique helped the driver save 4 minutes of road time.