#Asia Hello, Mr Ola driver, where are you?

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India-rains-floods

It’s raining in India. Photo credit: Mel Gupta

This Monday was a rainy day in Bangalore. I had recently shifted from Mumbai to Bangalore and it was my first day of work here. I had planned to meet my colleagues at 10:30 am. My roommate said it would be hard to find an auto rickshaw in the heavy rain. So, he tried to book an Uber cab for me. To our bad luck, the rates had already surged to 4X. So, we tried Ola, the homegrown cab-hailing app. For a while, cabs and auto rickshaws were unavailable.

I had a moment of relief when we could actually book a cab and got a message saying:

Say Ola to your driver ASHWATHA (8********7) for CRN148230961. White Toyota etios KA 50 A 0400 to pick you up @ 8:59 AM, 16 Nov.

A few phone calls from the driver followed. My friend tried his broken Kannada (local language) to give him directions. He said his GPS was not working. Most probably he didn’t know how to use one. Finally, the driver didn’t turn up. The last call made to the driver at 9:30 AM remained unanswered.

I, finally, had to take an auto for my meeting.

This is a problem faced by many users in India. During the recent heavy rains in Chennai, many customers complained of not getting cabs at all. Wish Ola had made more cabs available than boats. To be fair, the demand must have been huge. But even during non-emergency scenarios, it is tough to get the driver to your exact location.

A fix could be on the way. Today, Ola announced a partnership with MapmyIndia by acquiring a multi-year license for its mapping services. Ola is planning to build “smarter routing algorithms that will result in improved efficiency for driver-partners and significantly lower ETAs.” This will result in better turn-by-turn navigation, which are available to Ola drivers.

Ankit Bhati, co-founder and CTO at Ola, said in a statement: “Technology innovations around mapping and geo-location will help us build a better experience for driver-partners and customers.”

To crush bigger global rival Uber in the country, Ola will have to work on its service. Two days ago, Ola raised US$500 million, valuing the Bangalore- based startup at US$5 billion, led by investors SoftBank,, DST Global,, and China’s biggest taxi-hailing app Didi Kuaidi.

Uber earlier this year bought California- based map tech startup deCarta. This buy out was to help Uber make its services more precise by calculating accurate ETAs using routing algorithms.

Ola’s multi-billion dollar war chest and this new tie up with MapmyIndia, hopefully, will be used for better quality services.

This post Hello, Mr Ola driver, where are you? appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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