Kakao’s taxi algorithm doesn’t favor own taxis: experts

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Officials from the Mobility Transparency Committee speak at an online press conference to announce the results of their review of Kakao Mobility’s taxi-calling algorithm on Tuesday. (Mobility Transparency Committee)

An expert panel said on Tuesday that the algorithm of Kakao Mobility’s taxi app – Kakao T – does not favor its affiliate taxis known as Kakao T Blue in the process of matching passengers with taxis. taxi drivers.

The expert analysis came amid the ongoing Fair Trade Commission case against Kakao Mobility over allegations that the operator of the ride-hailing app first intentionally affected passengers to its affiliated taxis.

Denying the allegations, the company released its algorithm to the public in April, in an attempt to prove that its ride-calling system does not favor certain taxis.

Prior to the allegations, Kakao Mobility established the Mobility Transparency Committee in January as part of the company’s efforts to strengthen payroll taxes. The five committee members were recommended by the Korea Society of Transportation.

The committee’s five professionals in the fields of big data in transport and artificial intelligence carried out a 6-month analysis of the source codes of Kakao Mobility’s algorithms and data from more than 1.7 billion taxi calls made. on Kakao T.

“On July 29, 2022, the Mobility Transparency Committee went to Kakao Mobility’s office without notice and checked the ride call algorithm used on the company’s server,” said Kim Hyun, committee chairman and professor at Korea National Transportation University. , during an online press conference.

“We have confirmed that the trip call algorithm provided to the committee (by Kakao Mobility) matches the source codes of the algorithm actually used on Kakao Mobility’s server.”

The committee also randomly examined Kakao Mobility’s operating server and found no evidence of intentional interference, according to Kim.

The committee said Kakao Mobility’s calling algorithm provides taxi drivers with fair opportunities to receive calls from passengers on its app, whether they are Kakao tagged or not.

The experts added that the algorithm has no discrimination mechanism based on the distance to the passenger’s destination. According to the committee, all taxis using Kakao T received calls as long as they were near passengers.

The committee noted, however, that call acceptance rates differed between Kakao T Blue drivers and other taxis using the app due to the fact that non-Kakao drivers chose which passengers they wanted to pick up.

Kakao T Blue drivers cannot pick up passengers as they are automatically assigned, while non-Kakao taxis obtain passenger destination information and choose which calls they wish to accept.

The FTC is expected to rule on whether to impose sanctions against Kakao Mobility once Han Ki-jeong, the FTC’s new chairman-elect, is named after passing the National Assembly confirmation hearing.

According to People Power Party Representative Kim Sang-hoon’s office, more than 90 percent of the approximately 240,000 taxis across the country were using Kakao T as of August last year.

By Kan Hyeong-woo ([email protected])

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