In a few weeks, MOIA will launch in Hannover: So far, only a few thousand MOIA service testers could use our service, but soon we want to pick up the whole of Hannover and Hamburg, connect users with other users with a similar path and give them a ride together to their respective destinations. What only a few know: Behind this magic is MOIA’s team in Finland, a group of experts focused on the routing and pooling algorithms.
"I work on solutions so people in the city can easily get from A to B." That's what our Senior Software Developer Olli says if you ask him to explain to technically non-savvy people what he's actually working on. And it is just what it feels like for MOIA customers - easy: you get into your MOIA, for the MOIA driver it is already clear without a word where the journey is going and if another passenger wants to go in a similar direction the route will simply be re-calculated and the MOIA customer and driver get an update on their screens in the vehicle.
One ride, thousands of calculations
To keep things running this smoothly, a dedicated 15-person MOIA tech team works in Espoo, Finland, on our so-called pooling engine. Algorithms of the pooling engine for example determine which vehicle is allocated to you. Maybe because it is already occupied by a MOIA customer with a similar destination. Or maybe it's the vehicle closest to the you. The algorithm also answers how much detour a MOIA may make to provide shared rides. And finally, it's the MOIA algorithm that tells you when MOIA will pick you up and when you'll arrive at your destination.
It's not all that easy to calculate: it's a complex calculation of multiple variables, based on the number of MOIA vehicles on the roads, their current occupancy, planned routes, pick-up points and destinations, but also current traffic. And as soon as a new trip order is added, everything must be recalculated. Again, and again. Always live. A city is a living being, a moving target. You have to create a system that is capable of adapting to different circumstances.
"We help solve real urban problems"
Olli Alm is one of 15 developers and coders in Finland. Besides a few meetings, his work day is mainly determined to continuously improve the algorithm and solve existing problems or challenges. All while MOIA’s ridesharing service is online: As the 35 MOIA vehicles set off in Hannover to pick up MOIA customers and bring them to their destinations, Olli and the team in Finland continue to work on the algorithm and learn with every trip. "Our team here is very relaxed and we have lots of fun," says Olli, "but we have a big mission: Together with our colleagues in Hamburg, we want to develop a relatively inexpensive and high-quality ride-sharing service that brings people to their destination reliably and helps to reduce urban problems such as congestion, air pollution and lack of space in cities. The fact that we can help solve real problems in cities around the globe motivates us every day."
7 years of expertise in pooling algorithms
The team in Finland has several years of experience in pooling algorithms, but under a different name. When MOIA was founded as Volkswagen’s mobility start-up, it acquired Split Finland Oy over a year ago. And we had good reasons for doing so. The tech team, originally founded with the name Ajelo Oy, reinvented ridesharing for the algorithm age. In 2012, years before competitors even thought about this kind of stuff, they launched a service called Kutsuplus (Call Plus) in Helsinki in cooperation with the local transport authority, which matched passengers heading in the same direction with a minibus. The smartphone-based system allowed people to share a personalized ride that cost more than a regular bus but much less than a taxi. The goal was to find a way to prevent the kind of traffic collapse that plagues so many other cities. So, one essential thing that differentiates MOIA’s team in Finland from other tech teams is that they already have 7 years of domain experience, and they have launched a first-of-the-kind ridepooling service not only once but twice – first in Helsinki and later in Washington D.C. Many start-ups work with the paradigm ‘fake it till you make it, but the team’s goal was always to prove that their technology works from day one.
MOIA Finland continues to grow
We already have achieved a lot, but there is still a lot to do. That is why we are continuously expanding the team in Finland. If you also want to become part of MOIA and contribute to our vision to return cities to the people, we would be more than happy if you applied for our current job openings in Espoo. In addition to software engineers, we are also looking for a Principal Tech Lead, a Lead Data Scientist, a DevOps Engineer and a Quality Engineer.
And should you not be in Espoo or close by: We are also looking forward to new team members at our other locations in Hamburg and Berlin: https://www.moia.io/jobs/.