Google dreams up free taxi rides to stores

With new patent, Google imagines a world where consumers are connected to physical stores through online advertisements, and driverless cars.

A new idea from Google could quickly connect consumers to the brick-and-mortar stores they see in online advertisements. 

This new patent granted to Google reveals a system where consumers see an online advertisement and, within the advertisement, are given the option of receiving a free (or discounted) taxi ride in a driverless car (or other form of transportation) to the physical store associated with the ad. Here's what that ad might look like according to images in the patent:

But would it be worth it for businesses to subsidize the trips of individual customers? That's exactly what Google has invented, an algorithm that determines "the cost of transportation and the potential profit from a completed transaction using a number of real-time calculations." According to the patent, it would determine that using information like the customer's location, the customer's route to the store and most likely form of transportation needed to get there, and the price competitors are willing to pay to get customers in their stores.

While global e-commerce sales topped $1 trillion in 2012, and were expected to exceed that this year, online sales only represent about six percent of total retail sales , at least in the United States. So while conventional wisdom might say that the future is e-commerce and drone delivery , physical stores are, and will continue to be, incredibly important to retailers, as IBM has predicted . And Google is innovating in online advertising to make sure of it. 

(h/t The Verge)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com