If for one moment you thought the Google-planned self-driving taxi service has nothing to do with the company's core business of selling advertisements, you're wrong. Google has just been awarded a rather strange patent that allows the search engine giant to power its self-driving cars with ads, something that you may or may not find it appealing.

From what we understand from the patent awarded, advertisers would be able to offer potential customers a free ride to where the business is located, granting that they purchase something from the advertisement shown to them. The new system would offer either discounted or free transportation based on a decision making process that is powered by algorithm. This decision making process strongly involves the user's current location, the cost of the transportation, along with the potential profit from what could be had from a completed sale.

What we have here is basically a coupon for free rides, which is nothing too terrible.

There are several transportation modes mentioned in the patent where this service could be put to use. For example, buses, trains, taxis or even autonomous vehicles.

The big question is, how will Google display these advertisements to potential customers? Well, the patent document states that this could be done by either a smartphone or a stationary kiosk. Furthermore, the ads will only work if the system knows who you are. For example, if you are at a kiosk, Google would first ask you to identify yourself by logging into your Google+ account. If you're on your smartphone and already logged into Google+, the system will automatically know who you are.

Additionally, the new system will also track how often a person uses the discounted transportation service to purchase an item, along with if the user takes too many free rides without purchasing an item from the retailer. If you are one who falls in the latter category, the advertiser may choose not to offer a free ride to you the next time as this would likely not be beneficial to the business.

One thing everyone should bear in mind is that the patent mentions that users could be offered the option to reveal information about themselves to get recommendations from advertisers.

It is not certain if Google will implement this idea into its fleet of self-driving cars in the future, but for an ad company, it seems too good of a plan to pass up. At the end of the day, one should be prepared to give up a little information about themselves, and maybe a bit of their privacy too, to take full advantage of such a service in the future to come.

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