AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON arranging transport amongst parties through use of mobile devices - This application from Uber seeks to patent the idea of...Enabling customers to order drivers from a mobile phone and tracking the location of the driver as it arrives! 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 12/4/2009 that discusses:

  • Mobile phone-based taxi services

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question. We welcome multiple answers from the same individual.

EXTRA CREDIT - Location of driver is displayed on a map on user's phone, user and driver can communicate with one another prior to pickup, and/or user is able to provide feedback on driver's service after the ride.

TITLE: Arranging transportation among parties at different locations using a mobile phone

Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] User at one location requests driver. From a pool of candidate drivers, the user chooses a driver to pick him up. The user's location is communicated to the driver, the driver's location is communicated to the user as the vehicle progresses.

  • Publication Number: US20110313804 A1
  • Application Number: US 12/961,493
  • Assignee: Uber
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating 12/4/2009
  • Link to Google Prior Art Search - "Find Prior Art"

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A computer implemented method for arranging transport amongst parties located at different locations, the method being implemented by one or more processors of a server and comprising:

  1. Receiving, at the server from a customer device at a first geographic location a request for transport, the request including information about the first geographic location;

  2. In response to receiving the request, from a pool of candidate respondents, selecting, by the server and for a customer operating the customer device, a driver at a second geographic location based, at least in part, on location information of the candidate driver;

  3. Communicating, by the server, an invitation to a corresponding device of the driver, the invitation enabling the driver to accept the invitation to provide transport for the customer and including (i) the first geographic location, and (ii) identification information of the customer;

  4. Communicating, from the server to the customer device, a status of fulfilling the request for the customer, including communicating one or more notifications that informs the customer that the server is selecting the driver; and

  5. Once the dirver has accepted the invitation, communicating, from the server to the customer device, a location of the driver as the driver progresses to or arrives at the first geographic location.

In English this means:

A method for arranging transport amongst parties located at different locations, comprising:

  1. Receiving, a request for transport, the request including information about the first geographic location;

  2. Selecting a driver at a second geographic location from a pool of candidate driveres based, at least in part, on the location of the driver

  3. Inviting the driver to provide transport for the customer

  4. Informing the customer that the server is selecting the driver; and

  5. Communicating the location of the driver as the driver progresses to or arrives at the first geographic location.

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to 12/4/2009

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming Displaying driver location on a map, feedback system for user to rate driver (and vice-versa) after trip

"User-interfaces as transportation is requested and provided" from the Applicant

Uber does not deserve this overly broad set of claims! As just one example:

US 6,356,838 System and method for determining an efficient transportation route

"The driver then proceeds to the pickup point. As the driver continues on her way, she may update the passenger 170 of any changes to the arrival time estimate including, for example, the fact that she has arrived at the pickup point. " from US6356838

Can you help find more Prior Art?

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Want to help? Please vote or comment on submissions below. We welcome you to post your own request for prior art on other questionable US Patent Applications.

  • to me, I would guess that every taxi service in the world has done a-c for a very long time (decades?), but d seems more novel to me than the others, but maybe obvious. I can't think of any prior art for d, but taxi companies might.
    – McKay
    Jan 22, 2014 at 15:28

5 Answers 5


The patent description sounds almost exactly like an iPhone app called Taxi Magic, released 2008 time:



I don't have access to the whole article, and nominally the first paragraphs are about scanning license plates, but, what they are talking about here sounds promising.

Advances in Grid and Pervasive Computing Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 4459, 2007, pp 730-737 Image Streaming and Recognition for Vehicle Location Tracking Using Mobile Devices Jin-Suk Kang, Taikyeong T. Jeong, Sang Hyun Oh, Mee Young Sung

The image of a license plate is scanned by the camera attached to a mobile PDA device and the numbers on the plate are detected by the image processing parts in the proposed Mobile system. Then the numbers and the location of a mobile PDA device are encoded and transmitted along with the location information to a remote server through a wireless communication network. Finally, the server decodes the transmitted data as a text format and transmits it to the destination user. Consequently, this paper contributes a case study on the embedded system for designing of intelligent interface between a moving vehicle and a mobile PDA device, using a spatial relative distance scheme. The experimental results show that detection and tracking of a location of moving vehicle can be conducted efficiently with a mobile PDA device in real-time through wireless communication system and Internet.


ALso this is a 1993 patent for using gps to track vehicles in urban areas that mentions communicating the tracking using mobile http://www.google.com/patents?hl=en&lr=&vid=USPAT5225842&id=JT0fAAAAEBAJ It also has a very thorough looking list of prior art.

Also this patent from https://www.google.com/patents/CN101079792B?cl=en with a 2007 priority date involves using mobile and as I read it lets the customer choose between taxis.




According to the article, the service was already implemented at 1st of April 2009. The only thing that apparently is missing is the constant update on the position of the driver. Since a web browser for mobile phone is also considered an application I see no other reasons why this wouldn't fit the description of the patent.


The payment part is described in this MIT article on M-PESA as a way to pay for taxi fares from a mobile phone.

... e‐float transfers are often used to pay directly for goods and services, from electricity bills to taxi‐cab fares ...


Avego in 2008 released a similar system. It's now called Carma.


Location, Navigation, Planning a Route, Identifying Persons or Objects, Location Sensitive Billing, and Advertising are covered in this paper from 2006:


Pull services, such as ordering a taxi are described in a 2001 paper bt Virrantus et al.:

" Pull services deliver information directly requested from the user. ... a further separation can be done into functional services, like ordering a taxi or an ambulance by just pressing a button on the device, or information services, like the search for a close Chinese restaurant (Virrantaus et al. 2001). "

Virrantaus, K., Markkula, J., Garmash, A., Terziyan, Y.V., 2001. Developing GIS-Supported LocationBased Services. In: Proc. of WGIS’2001 – First International Workshop on Web Geographical Information Systems., Kyoto, Japan. , 423–432.

More info on Location Based Services can be found here:



This is an obvious increment on the traditional phone someone up and book the cab who would then log it into a computer.

As GPS equipped devices have become the norm, doing it this way it as obvious as sending a letter by courier instead of carrier pigeon.

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